YINJISPACE use media professional’s unique perspective,try to explore the essence of life behind the design works.

© logo 粤ICP备19077098号

YINJISPACE use media professional’s unique perspective,try to explore the essence of life behind the design works.

© logo 粤ICP备19077098号

Yinterview.117 | Canada x Omar Gandhi

Canada 2024-03-19

Founded in 2010, Omar Gandhi Architects (OG) has honed a thoughtful approach to architecture, embracing diverse projects from urban in-fill to coastal cottages. Their portfolio extends to industrial and furniture design, blending local influences with a responsive philosophy. OG serves as a space for exploration, fostering lively debates and encouraging playful inquisitiveness. Their collaborative process integrates landscape, community, and typology, resulting in structures that embody living organisms connected to their site's defining qualities. With a strong emphasis on unifying people and context, the firm's designs have positively impacted clients, communities, and municipalities, leaving an indelible mark on the architectural landscape.

Yinjispace:How did you get started in design?

Omar Gandhi:I was first interested in art and attended a regional arts school north of Toronto. The school was set in the country and was surrounded by farms. At that school I was exposed to art, art and architectural history and decided at the end of highschool that architecture was a professional path that I wanted to pursue.

Yinjispace:At what stage did you form your own unique design philosophy?

Omar Gandhi:My design philosophy was (and continues to be) one which responds very closely to the requirements of the particular site and the nuances of the client. Each of our projects are very different although they all try to respond or relate to the history of a place. We want our buildings to look and feel like it was born of the land that it sits on – but has a unique character. We try to use local materials and building methods.

Yinjispace:Which designers have a greater influence on you? What inspirations have they given you?

Omar Gandhi:I have always been a fan of some of the great masters, Louis I Kahn, Frank Lloyd Wright and Alvar Aalto. But my favorite contemporary architects are Shanghai based Neri + Hu – who also happen to be dear friends. We (Lyndon and Rossana) taught together at Yale and they continue to be great friends and mentors of mine. Their adaptive reuse projects are mesmerizing. Their projects inherently tell great stories through their forms, materials and spaces of the history of a place.

Yinjispace:When you start a new project, how do you capture inspiration? What do you think is the biggest difficulty?

Omar Gandhi:For me – unlike many people I begin by thinking about experiences, never about architecture or “buildings”. It takes me a little while before I start to draw anything but once I do I draw wildly with a fat pencil. The ideas are big and broad and most of the sketches lead to nothing but I need to draw regardless. The inspiration comes – sometimes right away and at other times much later on. Its not a race. I am surrounded by very talented teammates and our studio is very collaborative. Debate is encouraged.

Yinjispace:What are your material preferences? Why did you choose them?

Omar Gandhi:We have always loved using natural materials. Brick, wood, stone. These are materials which speak to contemporary architecture but also to the architecture of the ancients. We strive for timelessness.

Yinjispace:How to combine art and architecture?

Omar Gandhi:Of course we often think of the form of the building as the art but in reality my thinking that the art of architecture is the space that is shaped and all of the intricacies of that space (light, proportion, scale, texture, etc). Art is the feeling.

Yinjispace:What advice do you have for young designers?

Omar Gandhi:Allow yourself to meander through your career – work for different scales of firms, different kinds of projects. Architecture is a difficult profession with many sub-professions associated with it. In many cases the traditional architectural career might not be the best for everyone. Allow yourself to dream and explore and find what makes you happy. Finally, you need to put in the work.

Yinjispace:What do you think of the current Canadian design market?

Omar Gandhi:There are always glimpses of genius in Canadian architecture – but the time is near for a generation to really break through and make an impression globally. We are a country of both talent and resources composed of people with rich and diverse backgrounds. The country is still searching for its voice – but its coming.