Herriot Melhuish O’Neill Architects - Wellington, Christchurch, Auckland, Tauranga

A New Auckland Architect in the Making: Sid Ohri

8 October 2018

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Sid Ohri grew up in New Delhi but now calls Auckland home. Settled into the HMOA team in the Parnell studio, we asked him how he came to architecture … and to New Zealand.

Sid from Auckland architectural studio.

Sid celebrating HMOA's 20th birthday with Pip Barr from the Wellington studio

How long have you been in New Zealand?

I arrived in Auckland from India in 2006 when I was 17. Towards the end of my secondary schooling, I decided I wanted to move overseas to study and work, and chose New Zealand for its clean, green image.  I was lucky to have lots of support systems in place when I got here, there were friends of my family in Auckland, so it was a pretty easy transition.

I did find the Auckland suburbs overly quiet compared to India though!

Sid, there are already so many Auckland architects about, why would you decide on such a competitive career?

I’ve always been into making things and finding solutions, and truly believe that architecture is the highest form of creativity. Good architecture can transform lives.

Every day, we are surrounded by architecture, from the hospitals we’re born in to our homes, schools and offices. How these buildings are designed affects how we live and feel.

In saying that, like most school-leavers, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. At first, I chose to work in hospitality, I’m not sure why because I had plenty of options. I’m glad I did though, I got to meet some amazing people and improve my communication skills.  

After a while, I started to feel unfulfilled creatively and one day, when I was working in a restaurant in Dunedin, I found myself fascinated by the scale models in the window of the architectural firm next door. I decided to go and speak with the company’s director and I told him I was thinking about studying architecture. He explained a bit about the profession in New Zealand and about the universities that offer the degree.

So, I created a portfolio and enrolled in a Bachelor of Architecture at Unitec in Auckland. It was stressful at first, every student is striving for perfection, but it got easier as I learned to organise my work better and meet the deadlines.

What did your family think about your decision to study architecture?

They were surprised but very supportive. There are no architects in my family but I think I have inherited my creativity from my mum. She studied fine arts and has always encouraged my sister and me to find a medium to express ourselves.

The HMOA Auckland studio is truly multi-national now …

It sure is, our team is from Iran, South Africa, India and of course there’s still two kiwis, Matt and Brent. It’s a great environment, we get to compare the cultural and social issues of architecture (and sport!), as well as the construction methods.

As a young architectural graduate, is it just all about drawing up house plans?

Not at all. I’ve only been with HMOA for a year and a half but there’s already plenty of variety. I’ve got to work on a lot of different projects, from multi-unit residential and social housing to commercial buildings and renovations.

I’m enjoying the work and really appreciate that HMOA supports and involves their architectural graduates at every stage.

I’ve learnt that buildings should be designed not just with current needs in mind, but the future as well; spaces should evolve with the people who occupy them.

I’d like to start the process to becoming a Registered Architect, and I am also thinking about studying part-time for my Masters in Urban Design.

How do you enjoy living in Auckland?

I like it, I enjoy the multicultural aspect of the city. Public transport is an issue but I think Auckland Transport Is working hard to make improvements. They’ve been putting in bike paths across Auckland, which is already having a good impact. I’ve definitely seen more bikes around than last year.

I sometimes bike to work from the Eastern suburbs and think a monorail or tram around the bays could also be a good solution.

 

Photo: Bruce Foster