Architect Raghav Arora on his win at the Masala! Awards 2011
It wouldn’t be wrong to state that Raghav Arora, 29, is the architect of his own success. He joined his family business a few years ago after his degree in architecture from the US and in the last few years, has steered the firm to great success. As director of the DRA Group, Raghav has helmed some of the most prestigious building projects in the city. His business acumen and vision fetched him the Young Achiever in Business trophy at the prestigious Masala! Awards in 2011. As Raghav takes giant strides in his field, he tells us why the lives of the people who live in a building he constructs, are far more relevant to him than its structure or style!
How did it feel winning the Masala! Young Achiever in Business award last year?
I felt humbled, inspired, proud and happy. Being honoured by such a distinguished set of jury members was what mattered the most. Having some of the leading business people in the region recognise your work and abilities gave me a lot of confidence to go forward in my career.
How important are awards to you?
When you get awarded for something, it does feel very good but it’s not something I work for or consciously try and achieve. The focus remains on doing a good job and having a great experience. If awards and recognition come along the way, it just adds to the satisfaction of working and keeping people happy.
What was your most memorable moment at the Masala! Awards’ night?
It was the moment when I was congratulated by some of my closest friends and family after receiving the award. They were there to share the happiness with me which meant a lot to me. The night was memorable all around though, from the awesome performances to some stirring speeches and a great after-party.
Of all the projects that you have worked on what was the most challenging and why?
That’s a tough question to answer; each project has its own unique challenges but I feel that designing and building homes for families requires a certain level of patience and skill that’s different from other projects. Homes for families are very complex as you have to understand the lifestyle and needs of a particular family and then translate them into a work of architecture. Every aspect of a home is customised and as a builder you have to keep your mind very open and calm while dealing with the very personal requirements of the members.
Among all the structures that you have helped create, what are you most proud of?
I love each one of them, big or small. However, I am particularly proud of all our villas in the Emirates Hills community and working for large corporations like
Nissan, Emerson, Black and Decker, Alokozay Group, Al Maya Group, Swarovski, Emirates Airlines and AWR group has been a real highlight.
What are you currently working on?
I am currently working on six villas in Emirates Hills, five on the Palm Jumeirah and a couple on Pearl Jumeirah. In addition, we have nine projects on in JAFZA for various companies and continue to work with Emirates Airlines at various locations in Dubai. Also, we are working on setting up new businesses in India. So it’s definitely very busy, which is a good thing!
Which architectural style of the past are you most inspired by?
I have never been inspired by one particular style as such. I have always believed that architecture, much like any other art form, must compliment and add value to its immediate surroundings and situations. Simply imitating a style of the past never seems justified to me. Architecture must be a result of the needs and desires of people.
I try and keep people at the forefront of all my designs; their experience is what matters to me. It’s easy to make a building reflect a style of the past but it’s hard to improve the lives of people who live in the structures that you build.
Which are the structures around the world that never fail to amaze you?
There are too many to count but on a recent visit to Mumbai, I noticed the construction of some of the slums there. Millions of people crammed into tiny spaces with nothing but mud walls and plastic sheets to protect them! It’s really quite amazing and ingenious. Yes, I do enjoy all the grand and sophisticated buildings all over the world but I’ve recently began to notice the purity in how people build dwellings and spaces of work just out of pure necessity. It’s not contrived at all, it’s a pure human reaction translated into a built form. For me, any structure that can exude purity of form and function is amazing.
What does it take to make a mark for oneself in an extremely competitive arena?
There are two things I’ve learnt from my father that help me every day. One is the virtue of being patient. It’s true, good things do come to those who wait. And secondly, I’ve learnt to treat success and failure in the same way. Whether you are successful or you’ve failed at something, nothing should be able to derail you off the path you know is best for you. It keeps you humble and more balanced in the long run.
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