As a principal architect of an award-winning firm — ABM Architects — Alfaz Miller is the recipient of several accolades and awards. However, to him, such recognitions do not represent the summation of a journey, but the desire to leave a mark on the architectural skyline. After graduating from Mumbai University with a Bachelors degree in Architecture, Alfaz started his practice in 1972 and, a decade later, set up his firm ABM architects in Mumbai. Since then, he is at home at both ends of the architectural spectrum — from small projects, which are composed with careful artistry; to a specialised vocabulary of interior design.
Alfaz’s prominent works include designing the interiors and restoration of Grindlays Bank in Fort, Mumbai, in 1989. “The most satisfying projects are the ones with maximum creative liberty and a single-minded pursuit of excellence in design and executed quality. The work for Grindlays was a gamechanger for us. More recently our work in Terminal 2, Mumbai International Airport was also noticed,” says the architect, who is also applauded for designing the Jindal House in Delhi and Vasind in Maharashtra. Under his stewardship, ABM Architects has successfully delivered several assignments across scales from banks, office buildings, airport lounges, residential complexes and villas. The GVK lounge at Mumbai airport is one among his many projects that received a lot of attention.
He shares, “The First and Business Class GVK Lounges on the west side of Terminal 2, was a collaborative effort between ABM and eminent fashion designer, Sandeep Khosla. The inspiration of the Lounges is reflected in the ‘jali screens’ based on the Lotus — our national flower and the map of Mumbai.” Alfaz agrees that it is often the programme and the site that dictate the vision for his designs as opposed to his ideas. “It’s quite frustrating to merge your style with that of your client’s demands. I like to design projects that are contextual to the site, the programme and the environment. If I am compelled to design otherwise, I do, but don’t enjoy it,” he says.
He recently curated the third volume of the coffee table book 50 Beautiful Houses in India. Talking about his experience, he shares, “The experience of curating was amusing, delightful and frustrating all at once. There is surprisingly some good work and some not-so-good work. Good architectural photography has also been a deciding factor in shortlisting projects. My effort to curate volume four is to raise the bar and publish good work. The scale is not important to me.”
Today, he dreams of establishing a contemporary style in Indian architecture. He explains, “I tend to be more subtle and restrained in my designs now. Unless the project demands it, simple elegance is my mantra! I would like to do more meaningful architectural projects. The dream is to establish an Indian contemporary architectural style. Smart cities are making waves globally. India needs ‘sensible’ cities based on the established principles of city planning, and buildings and spaces, which use natural light and ventilation,” he adds.