Here are some of the more frequently asked questions that I have encountered over the years. They have been categorised in order to make it simpler for the reader.

General Questions

What is bT Square Peg

bT Square Peg is a Design Studio based in Bombay (Mumbai), India, that specialises in Sustainable Architecture and Design.

Strange sort of name, isn’t it?

Yes. You probably already know that a square peg refers to someone who doesn’t follow conventional norms. Well, that’s me. Meanwhile, bT is what I call the primary computer on which I do my work. Yeah, it’s a geeky thing, I know.

What are your qualifications, and where did you study?

I am an Architect who graduated in 1992 from Sir J.J. College of Architecture in Bombay (Mumbai), India. Decades later, I went back there and did my post-graduate research on Adapting Urban Neighbourhoods for Climate Change.

Where is your office, and how do I contact you?

I work from my home-office in Bombay (Mumbai), India. To get in touch, please go to the contact page of this site.

Architectural Design

Are you a qualified architect, or do you come from some other profession?

I am a registered architect.

Although people from related fields (interior design, civil engineering, contracting, etc.) often call themselves architects, they are legally not allowed to do so.

Where did you study, and what was your academic record like?

I am an Architect who graduated in 1992 from Sir J.J. College of Architecture in Bombay (Mumbai), India. Decades later, I went back there and did my post-graduate research on Adapting Urban Neighbourhoods for Climate Change.

Are you registered with the Council of Architecture?

Yes, I have been registered with the Council of Architecture (CoA), New Delhi, since 1993. Unless one is registered with the CoA, one is not permitted to call oneself an architect.

What is your design style?

As in all other things, I refuse to be pigeonholed into a single style for architectural projects. Having said that, the designs that I do most are often low-rise, use local materials, and are responsive to the climate. If you look at the photos of past projects, you should get a fairly good idea.

Can my farmhouse have rainwater harvesting and solar panels?

Yes, of course. In fact, it should.

My view is that such systems should be standard procedure and not something special. Retro-fitting is sometimes difficult but, if you are building something new, such systems should be incorporated from the very beginning.

What is the cost of construction these days?

If only I could answer these questions to cover all the possible permutations and combinations…

Costs vary widely, depending on the site location, and on the materials used. A good rule of thumb is to ask a local contractor and then add at least 30% to the figure that you are given, because they always low-ball the figure at the start.

Interior Design

How long have you been practising Interior Design?

I executed my first solo project (after office hours) for the Indian Market Research Bureau, in 1992 while I was working for P.K. Das and Associates, and went into independent practice in 1993.

Do you undertake turnkey projects?

In a word, no! I firmly believe that there must be a distinction of function between the designer and the contractor.

Do you have a good team of contractors?

Yes, I have excellent teams of contractors, including one that has been executing my projects since 1993.

You talk about sustainable design for your architectural projects, so why not for your interiors?

There are many sustainable materials and methods available for interior design but, compared to architecture, I have found the scope to be more limited. This does not mean that I abandon my ecological principles when doing interiors, but I will not pretend that they are anywhere near as sustainable as some of my architectural projects.

What is your interior design style?

As with my architecture, I do not conform to any particular style. However, you might say that I am partial to clean lines and lean towards the minimalistic rather than the ornate.


What is sustainable design?

Please have a look at this section of the website. It should give you more than enough information to get you started.

Can my house have sustainable systems like rainwater harvesting and solar power?

You not only can, you absolutely should! While it may cost a bit in the short term, it will pay back over a period of time.

Can water-saving systems be retrofitted into an existing setup?

Yes, there are some types of systems which can be retrofitted in an existing set-up. You cannot expect them to be as effective as systems that were designed for them from the start. This should not deter you from exploring their use, however. Water is a scarce commodity and will become even more expensive as demand is inexorably increasing.

What species of trees should I plant for shade?

The answer to that depends to a large extent on your location and what you want to achieve. My suggestion would be to look for trees that are, as far as possible, local to the area. Exotic species (which have been imported from other places) may seem to fit the bill, but they usually don’t integrate with the local ecosystems. There are a number of articles and posts on this website that will give you further information.

What trees and shrubs should I plant to attract birds and butterflies?

There is an entire page dedicated to this question which you might find interesting.

Most local trees attract birds and fruiting trees are the most popular with the feathered folk. Personally, I like to grow trees from the Ficus family (Pipal, Banyan etc.) which are a positive haven for all kinds of birds in the height of summer, when many other trees are bare. Also, a not-so-pretty tree that attracts birds in large numbers is the Red Silk-Cotton [Bombax mulbaricum]. The burst of flowers that they generate in early summer will attract birds like the Rosy Pastor in large numbers. Please look for local trees as far as possible (see previous question for reasons).


Are you available for Vastu consultation? What are your fees for the same?

My interpretation of the Vastu Shastras is based on the climate and comfort aspects of the built environment. This is not “Vastu Consultation” as most people (self including) see it. Therefore, if you want to know where you should place X/Y or Z object for the sake of your health/wealth/happiness, I’m the wrong person. Climatic and human comfort aspects are automatically considered during any design process at bT Square Peg, so there is no question of extra consultation fees.

Can Vastu principles be applied to entire townships?

Town planning has not been covered in the book because most people want to know about Vastu in relation to their personal dwellings/offices. To answer the question; yes, as far as the climatic aspects of Vastu are concerned, they can naturally be applied to townships at both, the individual and at the overall levels. However, that is no substitute to good town planning. Vastu can, at most, play a supporting role in such a situation.

I’m going through some tough times. Can Vastu improve my life?

Have you read the book? If you have, I must really be a terrible, terrible writer! But seriously; during tough times, the most rational of us could become superstitious — it is a natural human tendency. All I can say is, if a change will make you feel better, go ahead and make it. Often, feeling better is a prelude to doing better. However, if it makes things difficult in any way: visually, practically or even financially, you are better off waiting out the storm. This is a personal opinion and you are welcome to think differently.

Vastu has helped so many people, so why are you against it?

I’m not. When applied in the correct context, the basic principles of Vastu are wonderful. Please remember that the Vastu Shastras were developed centuries ago when we didn’t have fans, lights, garbage disposal units, air-conditioning, apartment blocks, telephones… the list is endless. Also, the principles work best on independent structures. You will notice in most diagrams, the four sides of a house are unattached to others. In today’s congested world, this is a luxury most of us urban folk can not afford. Today, Vastu is often bandied about as a cure for all your problems. I am against the commercial exploitation of this science by obfuscation.

You’ve used the word “obfuscation” in your book. Can you explain why?

It is mostly with reference to the “Vastu Experts” who ply their trade by cloaking it in superstition. They play on peoples vulnerabilities, and make liberal use of words such as “cosmic” and “inauspicious” by way of explanation. The book was actually written as a reaction to this.

What is your opinion of Feng Shui?

I don’t have one. My observations of what Feng Shui experts (in India) are doing to people, is not in the least bit heartening. I am sure that, like Vastu, Feng Shui too must have a rational origin. However, our home-grown experts in this field seem to be one up on the Vastu guys when it comes to obfuscation. Star-shaped stickers, plastic amphibians and mirrors hidden inside partitions are supposed to make a positive difference your life?

Where can I find ready-made plans of Vastu compliant houses?

If you are really interested, you might try to purchase a book or two. Please remember that the authors of these books usually have no sense of aesthetics, so, to put it mildly, the designs look like crap.

What you might notice when reading multiple books is that there seem to be multiple interpretations of Vastu — what is okay with one expert is not necessarily okay with another. This is not surprising given that Vastu Shastras were refined in different parts of the country in response to the local climatic conditions. What works in Northern India is unlikely to work in the South and vice-versa. Eventually your layout should reflect your requirements. A ready-made plan can, at best, provide you with a starting point, but no more.