Creating ecological designs for a sustainable future

Chitra Vishwanath, Principal Architect & MD — Biome Solutions Pvt. Ltd.

Born in Benares in India, Chitra Vishwanath was inspired to study architecture by her father, who was the dean of Faculty of Visual Arts at Banaras Hindu University, a public central university located in North India. Chitra studied Civil Engineering Diploma in Nigeria and Architecture in School of Architecture CEPT Ahmedabad, where she met her urban planner husband, Vishwanath.  Chitra moved to Bangalore in 1989 with her husband and after a year’s stint in an office over there, she started her own practice — Chitra Vishwanath Architects – working exclusively on ecological and economical design solutions. In 2008, Chitra integrated her firm with Rainwaterclub (founded by her husband) to become a broader-based organisation working on both architecture and sustainable water designs. The decision influenced by many colleagues who joined them, taking the mantle of ecological design forward and the whole team are shareholders in the enterprise — Biome Enterprise Solutions Pvt. Ltd. ( . In the past twenty years Biome has executed nearly 500 projects.

Chitra gives credit to her home and Bangalore’s eco-system which has helped shape her career. She was married into a family of civil engineers, where everyone always talked of construction all the while. Bangalore in early 90s was a city that was experiencing a Real Estate Boom and enjoyed the influx of new highly educated middle class from various parts of India. The markets opened and  getting loans to build their own homes was quite easy as well. It was right time to be in the business of designing homes for the middle class while making them economical, which was the motto of Biome Solutions earlier. It has now expanded focus on ecological aspects of water and sanitation as well.

High point in career

“I believe every day is a high point.”

Most challenging assignment

I would describe this as our own home which is never finished and is constantly metamorphosing.

Greatest inspiration

“At the risk of sounding clichéd, it is my husband Vishwanath…..Why? He is just a brilliant thinker, analyst and eccentric all in one.”

Most important milestone in life

“Having made ecological architecture design practice a mainstream one and not doing ecological designs as one off effort.”

“Women are the better halves”- Have we moved beyond this?

“Oh yes at least in our case. We are independent wholes.”

Experiences on being a woman entrepreneur

“I must give credit to Bangalore which has been and open city accepting women as entrepreneurs. The fact that we designed many homes also helped since the home clientele felt comfortable with discussing with a woman the nuances of their requirements.”

How do you / did you believe in making dreams come true?

“I just have always enjoyed my work. I eat, sleep walk designs……….”

Challenges faced

“Not really many challenges as such, since I took the irritating aspects as part of work.”

Setbacks faced and lessons learnt

“Oh setbacks galore. Every project is a cathartic experience. Architects, unfortunately, are not always respected for the hard mental work they put in leading to dissatisfaction within. For me the lesson is try and enjoy the work I do to the maximum extent, garner something from every failed effort too and move on without the baggage of disappointment.”