• Benny Kuriakose


convocation day in IIT Madras.

Yesterday was the convocation day in IIT Madras. I received my doctor of philosophy degree from the Indian Institute of Technology Madras based on the thesis titled “Housing the Rural Poor in Kerala: A Revisit to Understand Success”. I thank everybody who helped me in writing the thesis.

Many people used to ask me why I was doing the doctorate and what is the need for a Ph.D for you. I used to tell them that if I knew that it was so difficult to do one, I would not have joined.

In fact when I got the Inside Outside Designer of the Year 2001, there were many enquiries for projects from all over India. Those were the days when there were only two or three awards at the national level. But nowadays, every architectural magazine and TV channels are giving awards under many categories.

After getting the award, I could have taken more projects and made my office bigger. I realised that I am reading much less and it was after meeting Dr. Prema Rajagopal, who was working in IIT, which led me to think about doing the doctorate. I joined IIT Madras in March 2003. Dr. Prema was my guide along with Dr. Dilip Veeraraghavan, who passed away due to cancer. I dedicated the thesis to Dr. Dilip, who went beyond his responsibilities to guide me.

It took more than 10 years for me to complete since I was doing the architectural practice also. There were many times, when I wondered why I did this especially when it took lot of my time. But when looking back, I think I took the right decision although my architectural career would have advanced much during this period.

Although I had no plans to teach, doing the Ph.D really helped in my architectural practice. I would not have been able to do Muziris Heritage Project or the Tsunami Rehabilitation Projects the way it was done, unless I had done the research. I started looking at the projects in a different way and realised the importance of the academic and research contents in my projects. This is going to influence many of the projects, which our office is doing at present such as the design of the retirement communities, churches, resorts, spa etc. In fact, I will say that the relevance of research in our projects has increased.

In fact, I would recommend that all the architects should do a Ph.D at some point in their career.

- Benny Kuriakose