Speaker Spotlight: An interview with Raj Kumar Suresh
What is your current role?
(I believe) My unofficial role within the team is to function as a creative disruptor. To break convention. To experiment. To push the boundaries. To challenge.
Officially, I'm a Senior Urban Designer. I lead projects in the Middle East, South America and North Africa working with multidisciplinary teams, to deliver (sometimes) traditional large-scale masterplans. These masterplans range from a few hectares to several square kilometres in area. I enjoy the initial stages of design the most, whittling down thoughts until the big idea emerges.
I maintain a key interest in Academics and regularly lecture and engage with local Design Schools.
What inspires you?
I love a good challenge, a vague brief, a difficult client, a tough site, a seemingly impossible deadline. When the odds are stacked up, that's when I'm at my creative best.
I'm hugely inspired by the strength of good design to solve problems ' in influencing lifestyles and bringing about positive change. A lot of the narratives in my own work are driven by people, economics, sociology and philosophy.
When stuck for an idea, I usually look to film, music, advertising and media for creative inspiration.'
What are the current trends in your industry?
Renting over Ownership: Rising costs, financial uncertainty, an increasingly mobile population and cultural trends are influencing a strong shift from owning to renting. From car-shares to co-working and co-living. Spaces will become increasingly customisable and modular.
Mass customisation: Dynamic programming, 3D printing and flexible production systems, have put us on the horizon of achieving a manageable cost structure for mass customisation. This would put us within reach of achieving efficiency in 'individual customisation'. What would the role of the designer be in future?'
Designing for an ageing population: Improved life expectancy, decrease in fertility and lifestyle choices are triggering a change in our population structure that will see far greater growth in numbers of those aged 65 and over, than those below it. This will bring both opportunities and challenges in the design of the built environment and in how we prioritise user needs.'
A trend that worries me is our overwhelming expectation that digital technologies and autonomous technologies will solve a lot of our current urban challenges. No doubt they will have serious implications on the built environment and its functions, but I can't help but think, if there can be too much of a good thing.'''
What will people be surprised to know about you?
The one thing that usually surprises people that even know me well is that I'm a bit of an introvert. I usually avoid crowds and parties. I can be quite talkative, so I don't fit the general idea of an introvert. I enjoy spending time by myself, engrossed in my own work, just me and my thoughts.
It isn't shocking, but it surprises people.
What are you looking forward to most at London Build?
The agenda for London build is always packed with events, talks and exhibitions. I'm looking forward to a lot of networking and a lot of learning. I'm also excited to see the latest developments in the building industry and technology.'''
This will be my first time presenting at an event of this scale, so it's going to be a great way to share my views, as well as gain visibility in the industry.
Written by: Costello Palmer
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