SUNITA KOHLI: SPACES, ART AND LEGACY |Best Women Architects | Ar. Mohsin Sheikh


Welcome back to the blog. We are here with yet another blog on again an interesting topic. Some weeks back we wrote a blog on 10 best women architects in India. If you haven’t read that blog you are missing out on something exciting. This is the extension for the same starting with Padma Shri Sunita Kohli. Yes, you heard it right she has received the Fourth Highest Civilian Award, is an excellent restorer and a Diverse Author. We’ll be taking a tour through Sunita’s life.

Sunita Kohli
Sunita Kohli

Growing up in the post-independence Lucknow, in a noted Victorian building of Lakshmi Mansions, little did Sunita Kohli know, that her visits to numerous auctions and sales with her father, her interest in classical music, and much later her antiquarian business of Davenport desks and Regency wine tables would collectively lead her to becoming one of the most celebrated interior designers and architectural restorers of the country, for which, she has been honoured with the Padma Shri in 1992. She achieved this despite being an autodidact and without any formal training in design. Interestingly, she learnt restoration from the local craftsmen.

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It all began with her establishing ‘Sunita Kohli & Co.’ (furniture manufacturing cell) and ‘Sunita Kohli Interior Designs Pvt. Ltd’ (Interior designing cell), in New Delhi in 1971 and 1972 respectively. These both now come under the larger multidisciplinary umbrella of K2 India, along with ‘Kohelika Kohli Architects’ (Architecture and Project Management cell), established in 2004.

Besides restoration and furniture design works, in 1970’s, she also began working on hotels when she established in partnership, another design firm which was commissioned to design a small hotel for the Oberoi Group, near the Khajuraho temples, The Oberoi in Bhubaneshwar and the Hotel Babylon in Baghdad. This firm closed but other hotel design projects followed in Cairo, Aswan and El-Arish in Egypt- The Oberoi Marriott Mena House Hotel and Casino, two luxury hotel cruise boats on the Nile for the Oberoi Group.

The Oberoi Aswan in Upper Egypt and The Oberoi in El-Arish.She has helped preserve national treasures in forms of numerous heritage buildings, forts and palaces in India, Pakistan, Bhutan and Sri Lanka. The most prominent ones being the Rashtrapati Bhavan (1985-89), the Parliament Building, the Prime Minister’s Office and Secretariat as well as the official residence of the Prime Minister – Sir Edwin Lutyens, Sir Herbert Baker and Sir Robert Tor Russell’s foremost architectural legacies from the British Raj in the capital city of Delhi.

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Her innate attention to detail and efforts are evident owing to the fact, that before setting out on this mammoth task, she made several private trips to London to study Lutyens’ original drawings, which are archived at the Royal Institute of British Architects. In the reupholstering of the furniture, she used khadi – the homespun, handwoven fabric, symbolising the freedom struggle and national pride. She was also involved in the second restoration of the Rashtrapati Bhavan, in 2010, with Charles Correa.

In 1988, she designed the National Assembly Building of Bhutan, in Thimpu, on which K2 India worked again in 2010 for the SAARC summit. The building is an amalgamation of delicate geometry and motifs of the traditional Bhutanese architecture, housing various spaces and volumes.

K2India is driven by the pursuit of excellence and quality. They strongly believe that one’s surroundings directly influence the quality of one’s lives – whether in the work place, at home or the public spaces in between. Their approach is rooted in a firm belief that design is fundamental to improving the quality of life, and with an integrated and unified approach, it can become a total functional and living WORK OF ART.

This philosophy is well evident in their interior design projects and product designs, which are combinations of aesthetics and functionality that yield warmth and comfort. They have designed for several private residences in plush neighbourhoods of Delhi, examples being, the German ambassador’s residence, The Aravali House, Gauri Apartments, The Terrace apartment, Delhi etc. Commercial projects include Underdogs Sports bar and Grill, Warehouse Lounge, Flagship office of Indian Express, Gyms in Mumbai and Delhi etc.

Apart from being a highly accomplished professional, Sunita Kohli has regularly lectured at universities of institutions of high merit globally, including Harvard Kennedy School and at Emory University, Atlanta. She also has books on diverse topics (such as cooking, architecture, interior design etc) to her credit and has regularly presented papers in leading museums and universities across the world on ‘Sir Edwin Lutyens and the Planning of New Delhi’; on Design, Architecture and Historical Conservation; on Literature; on ‘Traditional Mughal Jewellery as a Statement of Empire’; on ‘Social Entrepreneurship’; and on ‘World Heritage Cultural Sites in India and the Subcontinent’.

She is also associated with several NGO’s and foundations which work for women and children welfare. Ms Kohli is a Founder Trustee of ‘Satyagyan’, (an affiliate of ‘World Literacy of Canada’), an organizationthat works in over 400 slum communities in Varanasi and its environs with children’s education and women’sempowerment through literacy and Vocational training.

She is also the Chairperson of the Governing Council of ‘SAVE-A-MOTHER’, a leadingNGO which is dedicated to decreasing maternal and infant mortality rates in India in 1200 districts in India. She was the first Indian architect invited to give a seminal lecture on India at the National Building Museum in Washington DC. As we mentioned earlier, she’s a diverse Author, here is one of her books which shows the versatility it’s a cooking genre of book.

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How to get into architecture in India|Ar. Mohsin Sheikh

Hello everyone!!

Welcome back to the blog. We are here with yet another blog on again an interesting topic. This blog will be useful for students who are planning for get into architecture. If you are someone who has just completed 12th standard and wants to get into architecture this blog is for you and if you are not a student then you can send this someone who needs this piece of information. Now without wasting any time lets get straight into the blog.

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Before we get into this blog if you haven’t read THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE JOINING ARCHITECTURE this blog, please do. Because this is going to give you clarity and help you make a decision. The decision is always important as many aspects revolve around this. Even if you lack in some skills this decision of yours will fuel your motivation and help you get through the difficult process of the exam.

Here we’ll be covering topics such as who’s the competent authority, what is NATA, basic requirements for getting into architecture, eligibility, who should take NATA, where to appear for NATA, and Registration for NATA.

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As per Council of Architecture regulations, a candidate applying to any school/ colleges of architecture in INDIA should have 50% marks in 10+2 or equivalent examination with minimum 50% marks in Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics and 40% score in NATA, i.e. at least 80/200, for consideration of admission into first year of 5-year B.Arch. degree course.

Architecture is 5-year degree course, which has an entrance exam along with 10+2 exams. This entrance exam checks whether you have the aptitude, skill and potential to become an Architect. These are some basic skills which can be developed if you are starting at the right time.

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Now after hearing NATA for so many times you might be thinking what is this?? Let me first solve that. The National Aptitude Test in Architecture (NATA) is conducted by Council of Architecture (COA). It measures the aptitude of the applicant for specific field of study, i.e. Architecture. The test measures drawing and observation skills, sense of proportion, aesthetic sensitivity and critical thinking ability that have been acquired over a long period of time, and that are related to specific field of study, i.e. Architecture.

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The candidates who have passed 10+2 level examination with at least 50% aggregate marks in physics, Chemistry & Mathematics (PCM) and also at least 50% marks in aggregate of the 10+2 level examination or passed 10+3 Diploma Examination with Mathematics as compulsory subject with at least 50% marks in aggregate, shall be eligible to appear for NATA.

The candidate appearing for 10+2 examination with PCM or 10+3 Diploma with Mathematics in the current year may also provisionally appear for NATA, subject to fulfilling the above criteria.

The candidates belonging to SC, ST, OBC – NCL category or PwD (Person with disability) shall be provided a relaxation of 5% marks in total aggregate in 10+2level/ 10+3 Diploma as well as PCM.

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Prospective applicants desirous of taking admission to First Year of undergraduate course in Architecture (B.Arch.) in India take NATA. NATA is offered over major part of admission season at designated Test Centres located at colleges/ schools of architecture in India. Updated list of test centres is available at the NATA website.

After having registered for and given the NATA exam, there will be Centralised Admission Process in which you will be given a state rank and based on the ranking admissions will be carried out and you will get into First year Architecture course. This is just the first step to become an Architect in India. These 5 years are going to be long and hectic after successfully clearing of these you will be known as an Architect.

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Now that you know what is NATA next thing will be the registration process. This is a complete online process and details for the application is given in the NATA brochure. Earlier this exam could have been given at the student’s convenience but this is not the case now. There’s a proper timetable for everything and the similar is followed. This score is valid for one year only i.e. if you are giving for academic year 2020 – 2021 it will be valid for this year only and cannot be carried forward.  

This process normally starts in February, but there are two exams one in April and May consecutively. So according to your preference you can choose between the two. I’ll be writing a detailed blog on NATA in the next segment of our Education series of our Blog. We will also cover topics of exam in NATA, and will be having a series of blogs. We are focussing on free NATA education for students.

These are some recommendation of books for preparation of NATA. I have provided the Amazon link below you can buy from these to get ready for NATA.



B.Arch. / NATA Question Bank

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