Architecture, Communities & Practice

In this episode, Flora Loughridge and Ulrich Gehmann welcome Manchester-based architect Jateen Lad onto the Ideal Spaces Podcast to explore how good, thoughtful design and ethical practice can be a force for social change. Jateen tells us how he set up in the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami – his experience  helping those impacted by the disaster resulted in a dramatic career change: away from designing corporate and luxury buildings for models, rock stars and business executives, and towards working on sustainable community development projects with maximum impact. We discuss how processes of design and construction of a building can be set up to enrich people’s lives by addressing important social, economic, and environmental concerns, using Jateen’s recent Sharanam Centre for Rural Development for the Sri Aurobindo Society in Pondicherry, India as a key example. Working at the grassroots, Jateen’s projects encourage community involvement and the training of local workers, upgrading long-term skills and improving livelihoods.

Hand-built by local people trained on the job by the architect this centre in rural southern India is both an exemplar sustainable development and a force for social change in the area

Hattie Hartman, The Architect’s Journal

Jateen Lad is an award-winning architect with over 20 years UK and international experience. He set up in the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami working on sustainable community development projects and is recognised for his recent Sharanam buildings for the Sri Aurobindo Society in Pondicherry, India. Current projects are located locally in Manchester and internationally in Ireland, United Stated and India.

Jateen studied at the University of Cambridge, MIT, Harvard and the Architectural Association and is regularly invited by major institutions and universities to speak about sustainability, alternative practice and the social value of architecture. He is a chartered member of the Royal Institute of British Architects, a UN-Habitat consultant and in 2013 was appointed Technical Reviewer for the prestigious Aga Khan Award for Architecture.

© Jateen Lad Architect

Show Notes

To find out more about Jateen Lad’s portfolio, please visit his website:

Sharanam Center for Rural Development:

Social Value in Architecture, ed. Flora Samuel and Eli Hatleskog (04, Vol 90, 2020)

Thick slabs of local black granite step down into the main hall. © Photo: Jateen Lad


Manufacturing over 200,000 compressed earth blocks from the red soil of the site. © Photo: Jateen Lad


Constructing the 9.5m span masonry vaults without formwork. © Photo: Jateen Lad


The main hall enclosed by the deep granite thinnai. © Photo: Jateen Lad


Simple tools for a hand-made building. © Photo: Jateen Lad


Circular hall under the detached eastern vault. © Photo: Jateen Lad

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