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SCI-Arc Student Profile: Kumaran Parthiban

Kumaran Parthiban recently completed his first year of the M.Arch 2 graduate program at SCI-Arc. He was born and raised in Chennai, India and received his undergraduate architecture degree from MEASI Academy of Architecture, Chennai, in 2017. From 2012-2018, he worked for Cadence Architects, WeBe Design Lab. and Oscar & Ponni Architects, and taught design at DVS Centre for Design & Delineation in Chennai. He is now an intern at Atelier Manferdini founded by SCI-Arc Graduate Programs Chair Elena Manferdini.

M.Arch 2 SCI-Arc student Kumaran Parthiban

How has studying architecture impacted how you view the world?

I think architecture changes you as a person, especially the way you think and see the world. I started to question everything I’ve come across and also started to appreciate the value of things a lot more. It has definitely refined my sense of space and aesthetics.

Which living architect do you most admire, and what is the quality you most admire about them?

I don’t have one clear favorite at the moment. I have a large list of architects I like. What I look for the most in an architect is their character as a person, a good sense of aesthetic, and a compelling story that ties it all together.

a pink and purple architecture model
2GBX Design Studio 2019 project Forms of Knowledge (with Blake Minster), instructor Elena Manferdini.

If you were to die and return as a building, which would it be?

I would want to be the Vitra fire station. I think it is unique for that time as they did not have access to digital technologies. It looks different and stunning from every angle.

Which historical figure do you most identify with?

Zaha Hadid. I followed her work for the entire duration of my time as an undergrad. I was able to relate to her unlike any other architect. Listening to her lectures, interviews, and following her work gave me a lot of inspiration and energy to continue to push the boundaries of architecture.

a student presenting his project in front of Architectural Enthusiasts
Parthiban presenting Forms of Knowledge project during CriticalMASS 2019 Design Symposium at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte School of Architecture.

What is your most treasured possession in your workspace?

It is really hard to name one thing; it most often depends on the day. One day it’s my computer because it is a monster when it comes to rendering, which makes all the difference between going to sleep on time and staying up all night in the studio. Sometimes it’s my donut pillow that I use to take power naps. Sometimes it’s my friend’s kettle which helps me make a cup of tea or instant ramen.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue, both personally + in architecture? The most underrated?

I think people are too afraid to say this answer but I will! To me, sleep is definitely overrated because as an architecture student you need all the time you can get. Architecture is quite demanding, there is never really an end to design and we can always keep pushing things to make them better. In that scenario, I see every night as a bonus 8-12 hours of time. I feel I’m more focused and efficient during the night. It is also very peaceful to work during that time and in the end, it brings me more happiness and satisfaction. However, when I have chosen to sleep, I end up feeling guilty for it while I could have worked so much more at that time.

Power naps the most underrated. I find a 10-15 minute nap to be good for me, and makes me feel fresh.

3D illustration for mechanical parts in building
2GAX Design Studio (X-Ray Vision Workshop) 2018 project Bonne Aventure (with Justine Poulin), instructor Angelica Lorenzi.

Which talent would you most like to possess?

It would definitely have to be music. I used to play the bugle, trumpet, and the piano for nearly 8 years and ever since high school I haven’t made the time to practice them. It would be nice to get back to playing these instruments sometime in the near future.

How has your experience as an architecture student influenced your taste in music, and what is your current studio soundtrack?

I think music makes me feel focused and energized while I work, the tempo of the music helps to keep motoring through it. As an architecture student, I feel I am always searching for something different and new to listen to and sometimes it is as much about the music video as much as the music in itself. I listen to a lot of instrumentals and music from games in general, but my current playlist has a lot of KPOP.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

I never really thought about this, I think while speaking I overuse the phrase “I don’t know,” not in the sense that I actually don’t know but it is more of the way for me to pause and gather my thoughts around something. On the other hand, I use “xD” a lot while typing, to respond to messages, or to start and end sentences. It’s a way of sharing my happiness to the person on the other end – xD.

What are you most proud of?

It is very hard for me to say one thing that I’m most proud of. I am proud of a lot of my work and creations but outside of architecture, but in particular, I’m proud of learning to cook some good food over the last year; I never really saw myself doing it before. #GradLife

glowing natural object rendering by student
2GBX Visual Studies 2019 project Become the Internet, instructors Damjan Jovanovic and Angelica Lorenzi.