10 Best Sustainable Architecture Firms In Mumbai Embracing Vernacular And Modern Technologies (2022)

Thet Hnin Su Aung

Writer at Oneistox

September 29

15 mins read

Mumbai is a historical city that has now become India’s commercial centre and also one of the most populous cities in the country. These sustainable architecture firms in Mumbai have worked to retain the historical elements of the city while bringing in sustainable design for a greener city.

One way these sustainable architecture firms of Mumbai have honoured the locale is by learning and implementing traditional or vernacular construction methods. These local methods are then combined with modern technology to achieve sustainable building design. The firms’ projects are proof that it is not all about having green buildings; there are other innovative ways to construct sustainably.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at the 10 top sustainable architecture firms in Mumbai that are changing the cityscape, as well as the architecture throughout the country.

10 Top Sustainable Architecture Firms in Mumbai

1. RMA Architects

CEPT University Library (Source: http://rmaarchitects.com/)

RMA Architects was initially founded as a small studio in 1990 in Mumbai and later transformed into a full-scale architectural practice in 2010. Currently, RMA Architects has studios in Mumbai and in Boston, with a total of four principal architects and a strong group of design associates. Founded by Rahul Mehrotra, an architect and urbanist, the firm has designed projects ranging from small residences to urban proposals. Rahul Mehrotra is also part of the faculty at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design. His expertise lies in conservation and urbanism, subjects on which he has delivered lectures and written extensively. Sustainability in local craftsmanship and materials is at the heart of all design at RMA Architects. Each design solution is specific to the unique context while focusing on local building knowledge.

Notable project: The CEPT University Library is an example of RMA’s unique design philosophy. The building was designed to align with the existing, decades-old architecture of CEPT University in terms of both structure and materials.

2. Sanjay Puri Architects

The Rajasthan School (Source: https://sanjaypuriarchitects.com)

Listed among the top 100 architects worldwide by Archdaily, Sanjay Puri Architects is recognised internationally as an innovative practice invested in sustainability. The firm endeavours to create climate- and site-responsive designs influenced by traditional Indian architecture. Sanjay Puri Architects have worked on projects in different parts of India and the world in various typologies. The design philosophy of the principal architects, Sanjay and Nina Puri, responds to context and spatial relationships holistically while promoting social interactions. Every design is a recognition and a reflection of the site’s climate and context while also expressing the personality of the clients. The result is a set of diverse and novel designs that have earned the firm international recognition and many awards.

Notable project: Located in a desert-like climate, the Rajasthan School comprises varying volumes in open, semi-enclosed and closed courtyards, all oriented to receive indirect sunlight. Tall columns and walls and sun-breakers provide shade to the courtyard which also creates dramatic shadows throughout the day.

3. Morphogenesis

The British School (Source: www.morphogenesis.org)

Another innovative and globally recognised architecture practice, Morphogenesis was established in 1996 and currently has studios in Mumbai, Bengaluru and Delhi. This sustainable architecture firm places importance on comfort, livability and safety as well as sustainability. In fact, sustainability is one of the parameters for all its design solutions. All projects at Morphogenesis are based on the ‘SOUL’ (Sustainability, Optimisation, Uniqueness and Liveability) philosophy. At the same time, each project also responds to the clients and users, celebrating identity and diversity together for unique spaces that enhance the experience of habitation and interaction. Like any established firm, Morphogenesis has designed many typologies, from single residences to commercial spaces, for clients including British Council, Emaar and Hindustan Times.

Notable project: The new buildings of the British School are designed to accommodate a large number of students in a safe and sustainable space that also boosts social cohesion. The two key design strategies included replacing reliance on mechanical systems with passive strategies to cool the interiors, and creating courtyards that are shaded throughout the year.

Morphogenesis is also one of the few firms in India leading BIM implementation. You can read more about it here: Top Architecture Firms Leading the Way for BIM Technology in India.

4. unTAG

House in a Gaothan project by unTAG (Source: www.archdaily.com/)

unTAG is a fairly new interdisciplinary design firm in Mumbai. Established in 2015 and led by Gauri Satam and Tejesh Patil, the studio endeavours to create climate-sensitive, contextually sensible, and economically viable designs. The architects have designed residences, institutions and commercial spaces that are cost-effective and environmentally conscious. In addition, the designs also respond to the need for economic and ecological sustainability. The design process is influenced by the client brief, local climate and the budget, and does not restrict itself to one particular style. In the end, all designs of unTAG place emphasis on user experience instead of just the aesthetics and form, thus encouraging active collaboration between the architect and users.

Notable project: House in a Gaothan is a residence built for a local retired school teacher as a modest, cost-effective home. The central courtyard adds an element of greenery to the interiors while effectively bringing down the ambient temperature. The locally-sourced concrete fly ash lattice blocks form a screen that ensures privacy and blocks dust from the road.

5. Malaksingh Gill Architects

Longitude Guesthouse (Source: www.architectmalaksingh.in/)

Named after its principal architect, Malaksingh Gill Architects practises vernacular design to achieve sustainable architecture using local expertise and creativity. The firm has regularly used sustainable materials and building techniques for cost-effectiveness, comfort and durability. Believing that a holistic approach to design is more vital than simply relying on technology, Malaksingh Gill Architects adopts a systematic approach that involves intensive research. They also believe in unlearning and learning anew to build with local materials and construction techniques. Having worked under Laurie Baker, Malaksingh Gill himself has become one of the leading sustainable architects in India. His past experience as a mason and an architect learning from local craftspersons in villages has made him appreciative of the local skills and craft of building sustainably. Using local craftsmen also ensures the conservation of traditional skills that would otherwise be lost.

Notable project: Much of the structure and other elements of the Longitude Guesthouse, including staircase and railings, were built using salvaged materials and local stones to reduce carbon footprint.

In addition to this list of architecture firms, find out how some of the internationally famous architects are incorporating sustainability in their designs: 10 Famous Green Architects and their Design Philosophies.

6. Architecture BRIO

Riparian House by Architecture BRIO (Source: www.architecturebrio.com)

Architecture BRIO takes pride in delivering contextually appropriate sustainable designs that establish a healthy relationship between the occupants and nature. With an aim of repairing the miscalculated relations between nature, architecture and landscape, the firm aims to address the need for balance in our fast-changing environment. Led by Shefali Balwani and Robert Verrijt, Architecture BRIO is notable for its designs being influenced by the late architect Geoffrey Bawa, who was known for his environmentally sensitive and bold architecture. The firm’s philosophy centres around ‘aesthetic, technologically innovative and environmentally friendly architecture’, and relies on smart solutions for the best design. The architects also address landscape and interior design as part of the core services in a project. Architecture BRIO takes on different project typologies, however, their expertise lies in residential design.

Notable project: The Riparian House was constructed atop a hill rock, in a ‘half made, half found’ hybrid, to blend in with the surrounding vegetation. The natural materials also made it easy to hide in the landscape while forming a connection to the dramatic landscape.

7. HOK

King Abdullah University of Science and Technology campus (Source: www.hok.com)

Considered one of the most environmentally responsible architecture firms, HOK has established an office in Mumbai. This U.S.-based firm has invested in sustainable design for over two decades, and even published The HOK Guidebook to Sustainable Design. HOK’s commitment to achieving a carbon-neutral portfolio by 2030 has pushed them to put sustainability at the forefront of the firm’s ethos and apply it in every aspect of design. Being a well-established firm with over 20 offices across three continents, HOK has a designated department for sustainable design. The vertical is led by Anica Landreneau and works to research and integrate innovative solutions, such as BIM, to promote sustainability. What’s more, their projects also follow the LEED and BREEAM guidelines to ensure sustainable strategies. Unsurprisingly, HOK is also one of the top firms in the world with high BIM implementation in their projects.

Notable project: King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) campus was built as compact as possible to counter the blazing climate as well as have all the various research and academic spaces in close proximity to each other. Built using passive design strategies, KAUST earned itself a LEED Platinum certification and is one of the world’s largest projects in this certification category.

8. Studio PKA

The Loft (Source: https://www.studiopka.com/)

This architecture firm is a tad different from the rest in this list in that they don’t claim to be a sustainable firm. However, they take sustainability in a different direction through historical and cultural conservation and adaptive reuse. Studio PKA’s strength lies in interior design, though the studio has designed a wide spectrum of projects of different scales. Led by the principal architect Puran Kumar, the firm works with a ‘client first’ philosophy that focuses on understanding the client’s needs before developing an intuitive design to match the expectations. Designing contextually relevant spaces is what Studio PKA does best through an exploration of materiality in spaces’ raw forms.

Notable project: The Loft, Studio PKA’s office in South Mumbai, is on the second floor of a 100-year-old building set in a location that’s rich in heritage and culture. The tactility provided by the exposed design elements, structures and brick walls, when juxtaposed with the natural daylighting and the volume of the entire space, offers a multitude of spatial experiences that reflects the firm’s creativity.

9. Studio Mumbai

Earthen architecture of Ganga Maki Textile Studio (Source: www.architectural-review.com)

Studio Mumbai is another architectural practice that places significant importance on local materials and craftsmanship for contemporary designs. The combination of tradition and modernity, of Indian and Western cultures and designs, is what sets this firm apart from others. Its founder and principal architect, Bijoy Jain, is famous for his material sensibility, often earth-bound, influenced by both vernacular and modern construction techniques. Studio Mumbai’s ecological architecture, led by one of the top sustainable architects in India, has earned itself many international fans as the firm has been working on projects worldwide. The approach is still the same regardless of the location – innovative design and construction that are both vernacular and contemporary, as well as contextually and ecologically responsive.

Notable project: The Ganga Maki Textile Studio is one of Studio Mumbai’s well-known, non-residential designs. The materials – bricks, lime, stones and marble – were all sourced locally for a site-responsive design and the buildings were constructed by a group of expert craftsmen.

10. SAV Architecture & Design

The Earth House (Source: https://www.archdaily.com/)

With offices in Mumbai, Goa and London, SAV Architecture & Design is an intradisciplinary firm that creates architecture, interior and landscape designs. The inspiration behind all designs comes from nature, and when combined with craftsmanship and advanced technology, the designs make for evocative and high-performance buildings. The design approach is straightforward – ‘Design as a Process’ – whereby design exploration happens in 6 stages: Narrative, Making, Environment, Studio Space, Collaborating and Mood. The principal architects, Amita Kulkarni and Vikrant Tike, studied at AA School of Architecture and later went on to work at Zaha Hadid Architects and Fosters + Partners respectively, before coming together to establish SAV Architecture and Design. Architectural design is not all they do; the studio has worked on furniture, installations and exhibition designs. Exploring multiple design fields has resulted in the firm being a collective of architects, artisans and even computational designers.

Notable project: The Earth House is a newly completed project by SAV that serves as a luxury tropical villa. Earthy tones with stone and teak wood blend well with the site context and landscape. To protect the precious site, existing old trees are preserved and internal courtyards are formed around them.

These sustainable architecture firms may be based in Mumbai, but they have worked across the country, and some even have projects in other parts of the world. If you have enjoyed learning about these firms, you can look forward to more blogs on sustainable architecture firms in India on our Resources page.

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Thet Hnin Su Aung

Thet Hnin graduated in architecture and is a passionate language lover. She is enthusiastic to combine her passions in both architecture and writing to tell stories, especially those that our built environment has to offer.

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