As architects, the work we do is constantly fuelled by a powerful three-letter word: “why?”. By constantly asking ourselves this question, we can closely examine project briefs and develop solutions that surpass the original project objectives. While the answers to this question may seem straightforward in our everyday work, by carefully considering the purpose of a project, we can provide a greater sense of purpose and direction. The result is creating spaces that meet the needs of our clients while positively impacting the people who inhabit them.
With this approach in mind, we asked architects from Gray Puksand’s four national studios to share what inspired them to pursue a career in architecture and the positive impact they hope to have on both the industry and the wider community. In the fourth instalment of this series, we met with Senior Project Architect Savita Gaonkar to discuss her career trajectory and passion for architecture.
Gray Puksand: Let’s start at the beginning. Have you always known that you wanted to be an architect?
Savita Gaonkar: Absolutely! I always knew that I wanted to become an architect, and I would confidently tell everyone. But as the years progressed, I became a physicist and ended up spending over a decade in Mumbai, India – where I’m from – teaching engineering and physics to university students.
GP: What prompted you to change careers from science to architecture?
SG: When I moved with my family to Australia, I was given the opportunity to choose a new career path. So, I decided to finally pursue my childhood dream of becoming an architect.
GP: Did you find the career shift challenging?
SG: The move to architecture has definitely presented some challenges. However, my extensive experience and knowledge of science, physics, and technology – particularly my proficiency in digital skills – has allowed me to shine as a Senior Project Architect.
I’m so happy I followed my passion for architecture. It has turned my dreams into reality, granting me to do what I love every day.
GP: What do you enjoy most about working in architecture?
SG: It’s hard to choose just one favourite part of my job! There are so many! (laughs).
I love the creative opportunities that architecture offers. It allows me to play with the intangible and create the tangible. We transform an idea from an original concept in our minds to a physical form, and that’s pretty remarkable.
One of the most satisfying aspects of architecture is collaborating with clients to develop spaces that are uniquely suited to their needs and desires. It’s a pivotal part of our profession – people are at the heart of our work – which is why Gray Puksand adopts a People First approach to all our projects.
GP: What have been some of your key achievements to date?
SG: Last year, I was honoured to win the Excellence in Design category at the NAWIC Awards in Canberra and be acknowledged by the renowned Ms Nicole Lawder, MLA in the ACT Legislative Assembly. I also was accepted into the 500 Women In Property program for 2023, alongside my colleagues Apeksha Wimalaweera, Aurelia Gachet, Francesca Moccia and Dani Martin. It’s a joy to be publicly recognised in the industry while sharing my ideas and connecting with other experienced architects and designers.
GP: What makes Gray Puksand a unique place to work?
SG: I’ve been given endless opportunities to collaborate with incredible architects and designers, but what makes GP exceptional is the way we place people first. Truly embedded in our values, our dedicated human-centred approach is reflective of our culture, designs, and the way we work together as a practice.