Architecture with wood has been catching up in India. FII-India, popularly known as Canadian Wood has been actively promoting building with wood in India using wood legally sourced from the sustainably managed forests of B.C.,Canada. In case of structural applications of wood it works closely with Architects, Developers, Contractors, and Hospitality Professionals and extends technical support by suggesting appropriate species and grades most suitable to the type of construction chosen or preferred, i.e. T&G (Tongue & Groove), WFC (Wood Frame Construction), posts-and-beams or even hybrid in tandem with local stone/bricks. It also conducts educational seminars and training workshops that help create awareness about its wood species, specific applications, and appropriate methods of use.
As a part of this continued effort during the COVID19 period, Canadian Wood introduced webinars on topics of interest to the wood working industry at large. Its 3rd webinar titled ‘Architecture with wood in India’ conducted on July 24, 2020, was a part of the continuing series and a first-of-its-kind virtual panel discussion, presented by Indo-Canadian Business Chamber (ICBC) and sponsored by Artius Interior Products Pvt. Ltd.
The webinar began with a warm welcome by Ms. Nadira Hamid, CEO, ICBC and opening remarks by Hon. Andrew Smith, Minister (Commercial), High Commission of Canada. This was followed by an introduction of Prof. Gurdev Singh – the event curator & moderator, by Mr. Pranesh Chhibber, Country Director, FII India. Prof. Gurdev Singh is an industry icon and the Ex-Dean of the School of Environmental Design and Architecture, Navrachana University. With over 40 years of invaluable experience in the field of architecture and several awards at national and international levels to his credit, his portfolio includes Teaching, Design (Architecture, Interior and Urban), Project Management and Construction Coordination, Quality Control and Site Management, as well as experience on projects as an Owner/Builder.
As the webinar progressed exciting sections began to slowly unfold itself in the form of extensive, informative presentations by eminent Indian architects namely Ar. N Mahesh from Iyer & Mahesh, Ar. Gurpreet Singh from Aakar Design Consultants and Ar. Kamal Malik from Malik Architecture. Each glorified through their unique pieces of work the various features, strengths, and possibilities in the world of architecture with wood.
Ar. N Mahesh is known for his decades of experience in reviving traditional timber architecture in India using ‘Green’ reforested timber. He presented beautiful pieces of work that drew inspiration from heritage architecture in Kerala and merged it with the technological prowess of changing times. His presentation showcased rich examples of wooden buildings and captivating visuals of projects spanning across premium hotels and resorts like the Ananta spa & resort – Rajasthan, the Lalit resort &spa, Bekal – Kerala and the Zuri Kumarakom Resort & Spa – Kerala to name a few. Besides these, he also showcased an eye-catching structure, his prized possession called the ‘Bell Museum’ located in Trivandrum. The building’s interiors featured successful use of Canadian manufactured Tongue and Groove panelling made with western hemlock, one of the five Canadian wood species available across India.
This was followed with a presentation by Ar. Gurpreet Singh who unveiled some truly exemplary work.His projects included well-recognized and awarded ventures like the Royal Academy of Bhutan and large scale in-making projects like the Dining hall for the World School of Environment in Coorg. He also showcased Aakar Villa; a luxury private villa displayed at 1970 sq. ft. in Himachal Pradesh.The villa exhibited how Canadian Wood specie Douglas-fir was optimally used to build posts-and-beams, multiple doors and windows that created a beautiful open space in oneness with nature.
The final presentation was made by Ar. Kamal Malik. His slides were iconic in their representation of his love for nature and the inspiration drawn from it. He defined architecture as a synthesis of ‘Ecology’ and ‘Spirit’.‘Ecology’ implying a seamless, cohesive, and integrated approach to design and ‘Spirit’ implying balance, understanding and tranquility. His pieces of architecture with wood included a luxury resort in Morgiri in Lonavala and in Alibaug where he elaborated upon how nature united with the applied contemporary architectural elements.
The three presentations were followed by a very engaging panel discussion, curated innovatively by Prof. Gurdev Singh. The event finally concluded with an insightful Q&A session of the panelists with the well-informed audience. The queries raised by the enthusiastic audience to the panelists clearly indicated the rising positive sentiment and trend towards use of wood in structural applications – we see an emerging trend of country homes, farm houses and resorts especially in hills and coastal areas being designed with wood (from sustainably managed forests) as the most eco-friendly building material.
Commenting on the response to the webinar, Mr. Pranesh Chhibber, Country Director, FII India said, ‘Canadian Wood is delighted to have the three stalwarts of architecture together as panelists on this platform along with Prof. Gurdev as the curator and moderator. It has been an enriching experience for us to listen and see them share their experience and expertise with the audience on the topic of “Architecture with Wood in India”.
It has been highly satisfying, encouraging and inspiring for us have had such an illustrious team of panelists on the Canadian Wood webinar – Ion behalf of Canadian Wood, thank Architects Mahesh, Gurpreet and Kamal from the bottom of my heart to having spared time for not just today but for having put in many hours preparing their presentations with their respective teams in their offices. Needless to mention that we are also thankful to Prof. Gurdev for being a great sport and taking on the mantle of being the curator and moderator for this webinar.
I must acknowledge the support and encouragement from Hon. Andrew Smith – Minister (Commercial), High Commission of Canada in India and thank him for taking time out for the webinar to further strengthen Indo-Canadian business ties. Needless to mention that without the support and collaboration of ICBC this webinar would not have been possible – so thank you Nadira for being such a sport. I also thank Ms. Bhawna Sharma – Director of Artius Interior products, Gurgaon for sponsoring the webinar and sharing with the audience the great work that Artius is doing with the Canadian Wood species.
Last but not the least, this webinar would not have been a success without the registration and participation of such an enlightened audience. There is a lot for us to take from this webinar and be encouraged to keep such conversations alive on the Canadian Wood forum. I assure our stakeholders that we intend continuing to organize more such sessions with eminent personalities connected with wood from India and abroad.’