Ar. Ponni M. Concessao, Partner – Oscar & Ponni Architects, Chennai, India
To Ponni Concessao, an architect’s role is nation building and one must have a strong sense of contributing to welfare of society to all levels – especially the poorest of poor. She has dedicated herself for several social causes such as Rotary and Round table organizations and charity projects, building Noon-Meal Centers, Schools for the underprivileged, and Tsunami Housing being a few worth noting.
The inspiration and design philosophy for her firm, Oscar & Ponni Architects work comes from an understanding of the client’s needs and goals with both a local and global perspective, with a constant search for design excellence and meticulous details.
She has worked with Edward Larabbee Barnes Architect, New York City, USA, and with the National Trust of Historic Preservation, Washington D.C., USA.
Her firm — Oscar & Ponni Architects provides consultancy services in Urban Design, Architecture, Interiors and Engineering services. With over 71 International, National and State Awards for Architecture & Interiors that includes Indian Buildings Congress Satya Goel Memorial National Award for the “Eminent Women Building Professional from India”, 2014 at New Delhi and Icons of Spaces Awards, by BERG Singapore in 2016, Ms. Ponni has carved a niche for herself in the architecture & designing arena.
Here are some of her views, shared with team ABT.
Tell us about your journey to becoming an Architect
I was born into a family of professionals. I graduated from the illustrious Church Park Convent in Chennai and was the first woman undergraduate student of the prestigious National Institute of Technology, Tiruchirappalli, University of Madras. I then completed post-graduate studies from Cornell University USA in 1989 with the JND Tata Endowment Scholarship and Scholarship from Cornell University. I pursued my Advanced Professional Studies at Harvard University, USA in the areas of affordable housing, hospitals and research labs in 1992, and was conferred with Honorary Doctorate from the University of Malaysia and University of Milano for Modern Architecture and Architectural Science.
I truly admire Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam – Former President of India and Space Scientist. His inspiring words, “There is no substitute for hard work. Work with integrity and succeed with integrity” has been ingrained in everything that I do.
What is one milestone in your life that makes you happy?
I think coming back to India to practice Architecture was a milestone that made me happy. India has given me great opportunities to bloom as a woman professional, an entrepreneur and a nation builder. It is exciting to be part this decade & century where the world is looking up to our country today, for many things, including infrastructure which is critical part of the overall global outlook & quality of living.
Did you face any challenges as a women entrepreneur?
Sure — I do face challenges as a woman on an everyday basis both personally and professionally. I perceive bad experiences as challenges and get down to constructive problem solving. This has helped a lot in managing myself effectively.
If you were to change /undo any one moment /event in your life, what would that be?
I have enjoyed the life to the fullest and have learnt from the ups and downs. This has enabled me to turn a disadvantage into an advantage which is essential to survive the vicissitudes of life.
Tell us about any one impactful social project that you were involved with and were very satisfied with the outcome.
The Rising Star Outreach School, an American NGO project in Tamilnadu State for leprosy effected families children was a very fulfilling and rewarding project. We were involved in designing the residential school, volunteer block, dormitories and dining block for the NGO. It was indeed challenging and enriching experience to be involved with a project that had high social impact.
What advice would you like to give to your younger selves?
Never compromise and achieve your dreams! It is important for women to fight social conditioning especially in the Asian environment and achieve their goals.
What would you like to achieve in the next 5 years?
To be a game changer in Architecture and Nation building.
Watch the video of Oscar & Ponni Architects at Icons of Spaces Awards 2016, Singapore.