“I feel I am adding value to the community and the environment with the work I do”, Rajeshwari Raj.
What is your job about?
Building sustainable social housing on brown field sites. Homes were built on a garage site with links to local parks extending landscape belts. The project focused on constructing homes which were energy efficient and addressed housing needs; satisfying needs using science art and technology.
What issues do you address?
Specific issues which were considered focused on energy efficiency, how different materials could be used efficiently, space accessibility, biodiversity within the environment and how to design homes which can grow with you. The major issue for me was always how buildings and users interacted with the environment.
What moved you to take action?
Clients approached me looking to begin construction on a brown field derelict site, I wanted to use my knowledge and environmental awareness to provide homes which are sustainable in design but also practical.
What helped you keep going in hard times?
I would say it was feeling that I was adding value to the community and environment with the work I was doing. I always go back to my projects to see how people are using it and it has mostly been good to see people enjoying them and that gives me the satisfaction to keep going. Also I take every project as learning experience to be improved upon. Teaching gave me the chance to play a role in training up young people and developing their skills allowing me the chance to establish the importance of the environmentally responsible housing in communities and in way impart my knowledge and skills.
What first prompted you to become interested in environmental issues and when was that?
I studied climatology when I was at University in India in the 80s and began to think about architecture and construction in terms of a wider environment. This was a more passive approach and later during my master’s degree in the US I continued this further with a focus on environmental design – how the spaces linked and connected and the bioclimatic factors and the effect they had on people. Whilst working in the UK all this came together to take in technological advances. Also, growing up with my grandfather (who was involved with Gandhi and his works) during my primary years left a deep imprint on the values of sustainable practices in life and now I do this in my work incorporating all the modern views, technologies and methods.
On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being very happy) where would you rate how you feel about your life?I’m happiest when I’m working (10). This means a whole range of things – primarily designing, researching, and teaching- anything creative even cooking.