Sumedh Kataria: Leading With A Fusion Of Sustainability & Innovative Approach | CEOInsights Vendor
Sumedh Kataria: Leading With A Fusion Of Sustainability & Innovative Approach

Sumedh Kataria: Leading With A Fusion Of Sustainability & Innovative Approach

Sumedh Kataria ,    Director

Sumedh Kataria


The field of architecture holds significant sway in shaping not only our physical environment but also influencing our lifestyles, profes-sional endeavours, and social connections. Its impact goes beyond mere structures, as it plays a crucial role in establishing a sense of identity and belonging within communities. Architectural design reflects the culture, values, and history of a community. Plus Architecture is a dynamic practice specializing in master planning, architecture, and interior design. Plus stands at the forefront of this transformative industry. Dedicated to delivering impactful and inspiring projects, the practice extends its reach throughout Australia and New Zealand. With a global design expertise accessible from its ten locations, Plus Architecture ensures a comprehensive approach to meeting clients' needs.

At the helm of Plus Architecture’s Sydney studio is Sumedh Kataria, serving as the Director. With numerous years of experience in the industry, Sumedh consistently demonstrates exceptional expertise and knowledge. His contributions have played a pivotal role in the organization's success, solidifying Plus Architecture as a leader in delivering innovative and influential projects in the built environment.

During a personal interview, Sumedh opened up about his professional journey, providing insights into his experiences and shedding light on the current trends shaping the industry.

Can you provide a short overview of your professional path and share the factors that drive your daily routines?

I feel incredibly fortunate to be a third-generation architect, having grown up surrounded by the world of architecture. My early years were spent in Nigeria, Africa, followed by schooling in Delhi, India. After completing my Bachelor's in Architecture in Delhi, I ventured to San Francisco for work before returning to contribute to my family's well-established firm in Delhi. Seeking a new challenge, I pursued my master's degree in Sydney at the University of New South Wales, where I fell in love with the Australian culture.

Over the past 21 years in Australia, my professional journey has evolved from being a junior architect to establishing my own business. Each obstacle and challenge along the way has been embraced, and my motivation remains rooted in creating designs that enhance people's day to-day experiences, adapting to the changing ways of living over the last two decades. Maintaining a work-life balance is crucial, with a commitment to not bringing work home, ensuring a healthy focus on both professional and personal aspects of life as I continue to lead and grow in the field of architecture.

Share the significant milestones in your professional journey thus far and elaborate on the guiding principles that have led to your success.

I believe my approach has been consistent, focusing on understanding and responding to the community's needs while maintaining a keen awareness of the environment. Sustainability, in a broad sense encompassing both environmental and financial
environmental and financial aspects, has been a cornerstone of my design philo-sophy. There is no one-size-fits-all solution; each project is unique and requires a tailored approach. Whether working on large-scale retail projects or community-centric endeavours addressing the housing shortage in Australia post-COVID, the key is to assess the site, understand constraints, and prioritize community needs, while providing creative and innovative design solutions. Adapting over my 21-year journey, success means staying agile, avoiding fixation on one approach, and constantly evolving based on strong design principles.

Recognizing that there is no 'I' in the team, I emphasize the collective growth & potential of the team as a whole

What sustainable practices guide your team in creating community-responsive, energy-efficient desi-gns that align with real people's habits and lifestyles?

Sustainability extends beyond climate, encompassing a building's integration into the environment, focusing on carbon neutrality and circular economy practices. We always strive to achieve industry leading sustainability outcomes as well as support the financial success of the project. Cultivating a strong sense of community is always a key consideration for any design we embark on.

We utilize strong urban design principles which include our approach to transpor-tation, cultural connectivity, retail, food precincts, and broader landscape, fostering a sustainable mindset beyond the site. Our collaborative process with our clients allows for responsiveness to broader urban contexts and future masterplans. Plus Architecture embraces holistic sustainability through a considered Sustainability Action Plan (SAP) and Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), reflecting a commitment to long-term climate resilience and respect for Australia’s indigenous culture and communities.

What distinctive approaches does Plus Architecture employ to uphold its long-standing reputation for excellence and innovation?

Established in Melbourne 26 years ago, Plus Architecture expanded globally over the last decade with diverse leadership. Directors, from various cultural back-grounds, bring unique perspectives and expertise. Shared values prioritize client and employee wellbeing, emphasizing empowerment and success within the team.

The organization values problem solvers, fostering a culture of constant learning and collaboration. With over 200 architects across Australia and New Zealand, Plus Architecture emphasizes common goals, sustained passion, and growth. The commitment extends to investing in staff training, continuous learning, and global research, differen-tiating the company in the field with an eagerness to learn.

Describe the distinctive character-istics of your leadership and outline the principles or methods you adhere to in guiding your team.

My leadership philosophy revolves around the concept of team empowerment and employee development. The approach involves setting realistic, achievable targets and collaboratively navigating the journey towards success. Identifying and leveraging the strengths of each team member is crucial, enabling collaborative work and harnessing each team member’s diverse talents. Embracing disruptors within the team encourages innovative
thinking and continuous improve-ment.

The focus is on knowledge empowerment and striving for excellence, urging the team to explore better solutions. Good design, in my view, stems from out-of-the-box thinking and a commitment to doing things better than before. Leadership initiatives include mentoring, a buddy system, and a flat organizational structure, with directors working alongside the team on the floor. This collaborative environment encourages open communication and shared learning experiences.

How do you stay current with the latest trends in your industry?

I believe in actively engaging with various committees and initiatives initiated by different property councils in Australia, including participation in the Australian Institute of Architects. Additionally, I’ve been fortunate to build a network with professionals across the globe, from San Francisco and Europe to India and Southeast Asia. This network allows for continuous collaboration and communication, facilitating the exchange of ideas and insights into the challenges faced in different regions. Emphasizing a collaborative approach, we are open to sharing knowledge, recognizing that it benefits not only us but also the broader community and contributes to better design outcomes.

Our commitment extends to connecting people, even when it doesn't directly benefit us, as we believe in fostering a positive impact on humanity. Globalization has been a key facilitator in learning from diverse perspectives, and we actively seek opportunities for growth and learning. This involves participating in conferences, engaging in discussions on current and future topics, and contri-buting to academic settings as lecturers. Our approach also extends to participating in juries and panels to evaluate and discuss projects, staying connected with the construction industry, and embracing a mindset that values both fun and continuous learning at Plus Architecture.

What is the ultimate goal or direction you are aiming for in the future?

The future is dynamic and exciting, shaped by evolving political landscapes and the transformative effects of COVID-19. With a diverse leadership team rooted in various parts of the world, we explore opport-unities in growing economies like India, the Middle East, Europe, and North America. Plus Architecture's flexible approach adapts to each opportunity without rigid rules, prioritizing locations where we can showcase our design excellence. We have collaborated globally, engaging with firms across the Americas, Europe, Scandinavia, India, Vietnam, and Southeast Asia. Currently, we have 10 studios in Australia and New Zealand, applying the same philosophy of identi-fying markets in need of quality design. While already exploring new territories, there are no new offices yet, but we invite you to stay tuned for potential exciting developments.

Sumedh Kataria, Director, Plus Architecture

Sumedh brings over two decades of global experience in architecture and design to plus architecture. With a focus on project leadership and design management, he excels in fostering strong client relationships and tailoring projects to meet future needs. His diverse portfolio spans senior living, multi residential, student accommodation, and master-planning sectors. Collaborating closely with clients and team leaders, sumedh ensures each project reflects plus architecture's commitment to excellence and attentive service.

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