Local To Global
This architect couple has carved out his niche in the world of architecture. From private houses to office buildings, both have left their mark not only in Lucknow, but in other countries as well
Meet Anupam and Shubhra Mittal, Lucknow’s well-known architect couple. The weakness of one has become the strength of other. But it was not so in the beginning, it took time, patience and love before the Mittals’ could find a balance both in their personal and professional life.
It was a dream come true when Shubhra, a student of Lucknow Architecture College, married Anupam in 1997. But soon she realised and so did Anupam that while it was fun during dating, it was a damp squib staying together under one roof. But they overcame every friction and cemented their ties.
Ask Anupam his daily routine and pat comes the answer, “In summer, I get up at 4.30 am and in winter at 5.20 am. I am in office formally dressed-up by 9.15 am and by 5.45 pm, it is pack-up time for me and my staff. I do not sleep late, work six days and keep Sunday for myself. I am punctual and cannot tolerate sloppiness of any kind, I love to travel, read, write, sing, play golf.”
In sharp contrast is the reply of Shubra. She gives you a lazy look, rolling up her shirt sleeves and adjusting <dupatta> before answering.
“You can see for yourself how informal I am. Both in my behavior and my attire. Though I like to dress-up occasionally, for daily wear, I love casuals. I like to stay up late and absolutely abhor the idea of waking up early. I like to work at my own pace, am not too fond of traveling, except our family vacation travels. I love to sing and watch plays with friends. I do not feel very comfortable in formal gatherings and would prefer small, cozy group. I like and respect punctuality, but I am most uncomfortable with any precision in my lifestyle,” she answers, glancing sideways at the suite-clad, immaculately dressed hubby.
But wait, it is what Anupam says next that makes her face flush with joy like a child.
“Thank God, we are not similar. Our conflicts are now our strengths. I am so happy that we never forced each other to change, but like two mature adults worked on turning our differences into our strengths,” he says.
Anupm accepts that without disturbing his ‘cult of formality’ Shubhra has brought in quietly her own breeze of informality, which is refreshing and innovative for his staff.
Anupam continues to rise early, goes for a walk, gets charged with a round of golf and then they meet at breakfast. When Anupam leaves for office, Shubhra is there at home, ensuring that their two daughters Saumiya (12) and Ananaya (6) are well tended to. She attends to important household chores and then joins him in office.
“She is a big support system. I know she is always there behind me to help, assist in completing all things I leave incomplete. She is so good with detailing, whereas I am good at taking initiatives,” he maintains.
Anupam started ARIENEM consultancy services in 1995. Eighteen years on, this company is a force to reckon with among the builders group. Right from his initial days of his profession, it pinched Anupam that architects from outside Lucknow were brought to city to do projects. He decided he would change this trend and coined local to global as his motto. He made such a mark in his field that he was getting projects from outside Lucknow. With a ground staff of 50-plus in Delhi and Lucknow, ARIENEM is working in Maldives, Africa and many other countries now.
Here again he gives Shubhra the credit for this. “I do a lot of travel. Besides Lucknow, I have a full fledged office in Delhi. I spend three days in Lucknow and three in Delhi. I can do so confidently, without disturbing my work schedule just because I know there is someone who is there to look after the work in my absence,” says Anupam.
“It is difficult for me to initiate or start any project. Once Anupam starts, I can carry out the design. That is how the design for our house was made,” says Shubrah, who is a master at computer and the director of the company.
Terming her life partner as accommodating and one who believes in giving equal opportunity to his spouse, she says that she has now overcome the initial hitch that she felt at not matching up to her husband.
Anupam is passionate about his work and greatly values time. An edge he has over his rivals is his strong base in structures and civil engineering is his strength that helps his client trust him.
In these two decades, Anupam has come a long way from the first house he built while still studying architecture. He was paid Rs 500 in advance and Rs 500 after completion. But what gave him a professional high was that within no time, his design was copied- another house of same design was constructed just two houses away. Anupam soon bagged his first professional assignment for designing The Times of India, Lucknow, accounts section through competitive bidding.
But his company got a big break when he got to do the offices of TATA group in 12 states. But ask him his specialisation and he says, “I never wanted to be a specialist either in personal or professional life. I was always an all rounder and so is my firm. My firm is named ARINEM—meaning Architect infrastructure engineering and management- it is a complete solution Architect-plus.
As an architect, he has built bridges, flyovers, water parks, offices, foot bridges. His firm works in all fields associated with building- indeed a futuristic firm. But what Anupam loves most about is designing affordable group housing. Eldeco housing in Lucknow was his first project of the kind and there has been no looking back.
ARINEM is a pioneer. No wood, no brick. It has completed or is in the process of completing 40,000 such units, which is a record. Anupam is always looking for new technology which could reduce time. In turn, this leads to reduction in costs. Backed with time-saving technology, ARINEM can complete a floor, including flooring, in just four-and-half-day. The same work through traditional construction will take one month to complete. He finds number 5 very auspicious and plans his life for every five years. From 1995 to 2000 was a period of struggle and his profession took off thereafter.
“Does his buildings have his signature?”
“Never, I design for my client. The building should have the signature of my client. If I design for myself, my house should have my signature,” says Anupam.
Incidentally when the Mittals designed their dream house in 2000 in Aashiana in Lucknow, it became the talk of the town. It was one of the first woodless house in city.
However, he takes a few things into account when he designs a building.
“I believe that cross-ventilation and natural light are essential for any good structure. That is why my designs have a lot of windows. Greenery is also a must element in all my designs—it is soothing to nerves and gives freshness to your mood and work.”
According to him, there should be a basic structural difference between home and office designs. While office should invite you to work, home should give you a total feeling of relaxation- as if you have no work to do.
“What is his de-stress mantra?”
“Playing golf, yoga and trying to be with nature. As a family we take at least one global and one domestic holiday in a year. This is energising,” signs off Anupam.
By Kulsum Mustafa from Lucknow