Introducing Harshal Wagle, Urban Designer

Harshal joins Construkt with five years’ experience spent working in India and New Zealand. He holds a B.Arch and M.Urb.Des (Hons) from the University of Auckland. Harshal recently completed the Red Cross refugee-assistance programme, which helps displaced people and families to settle in Aotearoa.

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What inspired you to work in the architectural and urban design space?

Growing up, I was enthusiastic about two subjects: drawing and science. When I had to make a call as to what professional studies to pursue, I opted for architecture because it has a balance of both art and technology, I love that combination.

I studied architecture first then progressed to urban design. I have always liked the ‘big picture’ where you design for your site while being sensitive to its context, this was a key driver for me to pursue my Masters in Urban Design.

What is it you love about architecture and design?

Importantly, architecture doesn’t pigeon hole you, it offers the flexibility to move across complementary disciplines – from architecture to urban design to interior design.

When it comes to architecture, every day is a challenge because you have to come up with new solutions – there are no fixed equations nor templates to come up with a design solution. It means that what you did yesterday won’t apply today. That’s what excites me the most.

The best thing about urban design is that it provides the context – architecture is expressed in terms of a building’s design; urban design provides the framework. Effectively, it informs the design response and helps the architecture to add value to the site and complement the surroundings.

What is one of the biggest architectural challenges facing Auckland?

Housing. The issue needs proper analysis to develop a long-term plan. A thorough understanding of both the past and the present – housing patterns and typologies, for example – will help us to create a valid solution and ensure housing is relevant for today and into the future.

We need to move to higher density models and we need creative architectural solutions to support this, solutions that embrace speed of construction and volume. Coupled with good urban design the outcome can be quality, connected communities.

What was it that drew you to Construkt?

I’ve been aware of their work all around Auckland for some time – their track record in medium-density design and emphasis on quality is impressive. There is a great balance between urban design and architecture. And I like that they deliver projects from concept to completion. The people are another drawcard. The senior team works to get the best out of you. It’s a great place to be mentored and to grow.