Adventures in architecture

Updated: Aug 28, 2019, 09:36 IST | Dalreen Ramos

In her debut book, a young architect presents a light-hearted account of life that non-architecture students can relate to

Suha Riyaz Khopatkar
Suha Riyaz Khopatkar

Suha Riyaz Khopatkar describes herself as the kid who would go the extra mile to make a birthday card. This seems believable if you've already read her debut book Just Give Me Some Space (published by The People Place Project, and distributed and marketed by Penguin Random House) that releases today at Kamla Raheja Vidyanidhi Institute for Architecture and Environmental Studies (KRVIA) in Juhu. Accompanied by hand-drawn illustrations, Khopatkar presents a light-hearted, yet engaging account of being an architecture student. It's also a narrative of a time when your life is in circles but you're stuck in an institution with a time-table.

So, you'll find snippets ranging from writing an entrance exam and the task of group assignments to roommates and relationships. And although it's primarily targeted towards architecture students — drawing from Khopatkar's own experience at KRVIA — she avoids the technicalities of the subject. Given her own writing process that began when she was 20, the book chronicles her academic life chronologically. Khopatkar's frequent use of jest, though, comes with a serious undertone. To make this statement clear, we ask the city-based writer about a physical menace that she addresses multiple times: hair fall.


"I was born with thick hair and it's insane how much of it is left now. The crux of my book is that we need to address stress management and anxiety. Students need to know that they are in a creative field; someone's always going to be better than them and there is no point in losing hair over it," says Khopatkar, who is also certified in art and cognitive behaviour therapy. And while such light-heartedness might be brushed aside by academicians, the title has been endorsed by respected architect Christopher Charles Benninger. "Just because it is light-hearted doesn't mean that the problems outlined here aren't real. For a 76-year-old to believe in me was astounding," she says.

Khopatkar recalls her meeting with Benninger. She took a week to read his 300-page book Letters to a Young Architect. Then, she wrote him an email. He replied in three hours and the two scheduled a meeting at his office in two weeks. "We talked about architecture in India and Maharashtra, and I was also carrying my manuscript with me. He asked me if it would be okay for him to write a foreword and I said, 'Is that even a question!'" she shares. Benninger, travelling in China, won't make it for the launch but has recorded a video that will be screened.

The first thing a 20-year-old Khopatkar wrote in her sketchbook was the title Just Give Me Some Space. Now at 25, she hopes to work on a series of graphic novels — like she says, "I'm so much more stronger now."

On Today, 3 pm to 5 pm
At KRVIA Auditorium, Gulmohar Road, JVPD Scheme, Juhu.
Call 26700918

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