“We need to explore and have the right type of resources that can shape newer challenges through architecture”

Manguesh R Prabhugaonker speaks about his professional milestones as an architect and landscape planner

Armed with an in-depth knowledge and extensive expertise in the realm of architecture and design, Architect Manguesh R Prabhugaonker and his team is known for transforming basic brick and mortar into extraordinary spaces.

Prabhugaonker did his schooling from People’s High School, Panaji and higher secondary from Dhempe College of Arts and Science, Miramar, Goa. He went on to attain a Bachelor of Architecture from Goa College of Architecture and later on a Master’s in Landscape Architecture from School of Planning and Architecture (SPA), New Delhi.

Prabhugaonker’s passion for art and aesthetics in school, along with a consistent observation of transforming towns and villages, with a little help from destiny, inspired him to become an architect and start his firm, Prabhugaonker and Associates in 1994.

“Having graduated from Goa, I always looked at a futuristic significance of higher education and its influence in professional practice. So I explored options in branches like urban design at CEPT, Ahmedabad and landscape architecture at SPA, New Delhi. With Goa’s global branding as a tourist destination, and ecologically sensitive natural resources, I decided to take up post graduation in landscape architecture at School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi. With huge resources and the knowledge of planning and architecture design, I decided to settle down in Goa, sidelining several other opportunities of metro towns like Delhi and Bangalore.”

Over the years, Prabhugaonker has completed various projects – each one more challenging than the other, with various multi-dimensional layers linked to it. “Concepts and ideas in different scales of the project changed from place to place, emerging with larger complex issues in architecture design and planning. His architectural practice revolved around various natures of land uses in context based situations spread across both urban and rural domain type of land. His professional assignments in projects like residential, hospitality, institutional, religious and heritage structures, socio cultural centers in hinterland, recreational urban and eco parks, open spaces in both urban and semi- urban domains, industrial complexes, entertainment and urban landscape projects posed new challenges across his journey of 27 years. His various clients and the organisations that he has worked with include, Gujarat Road state highways projects with Lea Associates; Sahara Amby valley in Lonavala; works in Niligiris, TamilNadu; International Film Festival of India related works in Panaji City in 2004; Dabolim Joggers Park, Hydrology based Vaddem lake. He has also worked with environmental strategies, several tourism related works in Goa; residential township at Aldeia de Goa and the Grand Hyatt in Bambolim, Garcia de Orta Municipal Garden for Corporation of the City of Panaji; sports complexes in Bicholim, Sakhalim, comprehensive landscape architectural design master plans for various residential houses; and many more with other government organisations including Smart City Urban Renewal Missions; and various ecologically sensitive assignments across India.

Prabhugaonker draws inspirations from his late professor when it comes to his work. “My professor, late Mohammad Shaheer. He introduced me to the teachings of Central Park, New York; Sir Frederic Law Omstead in 1992 and that was the beginning of my journey in landscape architecture and planning. Late Prof. Mohammad has been my mentor, thesis guide and Head of the Department of Landscape Architecture at the School of Architecture and Planning, New Delhi. Sir stood by me as a teacher in different formats and levels throughout and it is thanks to him that I have learnt everything I know today as a landscape architect.”

Apart from his official assignments, Prabhugaonker is a member of various professional bodies and holds influential positions in various associations, while playing an important role in each of them. Currently, he is National Council Member at the Indian Institute of Architects in India at National level for the term 2021-23 with additional responsibilities as Member of the Editorial Board – Journal of The Indian Institute of Architects, 2021-23; Chairman, Architects Welfare Committee of The Indian Institute of Architects 2021-23. He was a Member of Architects Social Responsibility Board as official representative at ARCASIA; Architects Regional Council for ASIA at ARCASIA, Columbo, Srilanka in 2018; Tokyo, Japan in 2018; and Hongkong in 2019. He was also associated as an official member of ARCASIA-ACSR Covid 19 task force within 21 countries, Asian team which formulated covid 19 design guidelines for architects, policy makers and stakeholders. Currently, he represents India as Member in UIA at the global level. In the past, he has served as Chairman of The Indian Institute of Architects, Goa Chapter 2015-2020, during which his work earned the ‘Best Chapter’ Award for Goa State Chapter at National level in 2016; and in 2020 at the national conference in Kolkata.

Prabhugaonker is a senate member at the School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi, having been nominated for two terms in a row. He is a visiting faculty and ex-adjunct professor at the Goa College of Architecture for the last 27 years; and is associated with Bachelor of Architecture and Master of Architecture in sustainable habitat and landscape design studios.

He is an advisory committee member at MACT-NIT in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh and at Anantrao Pawar College of Architecture, Parvati, Pune; and several other positions in architectural institutions in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

Prabhugaonker is a registered member of the Council of Architecture, Delhi and is associated with several inspections to approve accreditation for schools of architectures in India as per minimum standards for Architectural education set by Council of Architecture, New Delhi India. He is a Fellow Member, Ex Member of National executive Council and Treasurer of the Indian Society of Landscape Architects (ISOLA) associated since 2006, with key responsibilities at various initiatives at national conferences of ISOLA as held in Goa on ‘Climate Change’ in 2011 and 2017. He is also a member of the Indian Institute of Interior Designers.

Prabhugaonker has also been involved with public sector organisations and has been a resource person for the government in policy formulations. Some of these include the Town and Country Planning Department, Government of Goa. He is the Chairman of Real Estate and Housing Committee at Goa Chamber of Commerce and Industry for the term 2021-23.

As a chairman of Real Estate and Housing committee at Goa Chamber of Commerce & Industry since 2016, one of his prime objectives is to promote housing industry friendly policies during these pandemic times to help revive the industry.

To add to this extensive portfolio, Prabhugaonker is a member of the Goa State Wetlands Authority and is a member of the Building Committee at the Goa University, wherein he is associated with several policy level decision of building committee and growth of infrastructure at the complex as per the demands of the multi-disciplinary branches of Goa University.

In addition to this, Prabhugaonker has presented various papers, been part of many seminars and conferences held over the years and have several articles published by him in various newspapers and journals.

Much as he has the expertise and experience, Prabhugaonker has faced various challenges in his line of work. “Today clients are on fast track roadmaps wherein time and investment associated to work process is supreme in terms of economics linked to returns. Vernacular architecture typologies, forms of traditional artisans, craftsmen and natural resources (building materials) are disappearing from the industry and newer technologies with wired models of infrastructure over our designs are becoming very challenging to strike a balance for architects. We need to explore and have right type of resources that can shape newer challenges through architecture.” Further, he says that architecture can never be taught and that it is a continuous form of learning with fast moving multi-dimensional aspects over design processes. “Architecture needs a consistent effort that can become very taxing with innovative thought provoking strategies that needs to be translated so that concept based ideas of our clients are transformed via building agencies on sites to evolve final end products, this needs huge patience and time.

Prabhugaonker says that his family has been very supportive. “My wife Sapna has been single handedly managing the two distinctive professions chosen by my daughters, Sanjana a national swimmer; and Muskaan who is graduating in Economics. Their encouragement and support is a big force that keeps inspiring me to move on.”

As far as his future plans are concerned, Prabhugaonker intends to continue working and contribute to nation building in India. “I plan to add the research component to my current architecture practice that can facilitate us in policy making; and drafting of guidelines to take on challenges posed by the pandemic, the new normal and its emerging practices for Goa and India.”

He concludes with a message to aspiring architects. “Be ready for newer challenges and be prepared for the demands and deliverables for the industry. Explore technology and software based digital era in planning, execution and operations of projects and not just blue prints. Rethink, review, reconnect and revisit to analyse the ground realties and move on towards finding design solutions with innovations and futuristic trends. Respect architectural identities; critically analyse emerging vocabularies and context with people-friendly strategies and policies integrated in design. Environment, biodiversity and ecology needs to make strong presence on design by generation next and is the need of the hour”

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