VARUN SJB RANA: CELEBRITY ARCHITECT
WE SNOOP AROUND AN ARCHITECT’S HOME
Having appeared on a feature of GQ magazine and on a myriad of local media platforms, most people don’t know that Varun SJB Rana is an Architect by profession. After the fall of the Rana regime, Varun’s family inherited the property of Babar Mahal and have a beautiful home in the premises. We snooped around his property to get a glimpse his home. And since we didn’t want to make that too apparent, we asked him a few questions too.
1. Men would kill to live your life, it looks positively grand! How was it like growing up with the good life?
Thank you, I wouldn’t go as far as calling it grand, but I am blessed. Growing up in this house was amazing and filled with wonderful memories. It was my brother and my two cousin sisters, and we couldn’t have asked for more in terms of open spaces to run around, play and be adventurous in. We were barely ever inside the house; it would be difficult to keep us kids free of dirt, and water. In a way it was an ideal place to grow up in.
2. The transformation of Babar Mahal from an old inherited property to the architectural beauty it is today has an intriguing story behind it. Tell us about it.
Baber Mahal Revisited was actually the cowshed where we as kids would play a lot. Most of it was open space and the rest was my father’s handicrafts and carpet factory. Eric Theophile, an architect from America proposed to my father the potential the property had by drawing a simple sketch of his vision. My father bought the idea instantly and began construction of Revisited, after letting go of his handicraft and carpet business. It was the best risk my father took.
3.We hear you loved mathematics as a kid (*wink* *nudge*). Tell us how you aced every test.
Haha, yes, Mathematics and I were not very good friends. I have always seemed to have this fear of numbers, especially the ones I would see on math’s test papers. The fear would be so intense that at times I would not be able to understand some questions. I did not, ever get over the fear of math, but eventually had to face it till I was in college. I basically memorized the darned subject.
4. We understand that you love to travel, especially within Nepal. Which is the best place you’ve travelled to?
Well, I cannot name one place as being my best because there are so many more places I need to go to. For now, it has to be the last trek to Lo Manthang. Situated in Upper Mustang with close borders with Tibet, this arid dry part of Nepal for me was an absolute breath taker.
5. Many people find inspiration from their travels? What inspires your creativity?
I am highly inspired by my travels. As a matter of fact, when I feel I have somewhat reached a sort of mind block while designing, I plan my next trek to recharge my creative batteries.
6. Your room has one of the most unique designs, which you mentioned was inspired from your favorite architect. Tell us more about the influences on your work.
Well, the primary influence for the design of my room comes from the fantastic garden maintained by my mother. I wanted to be able to see the garden with no disturbance in vision, hence the massive bay windows. The floating platform outside was influenced by one of my favorite architects project name Farnsworth house in Illinois. It’s an ode to Mies Van der Rohe’s floating glass box.
7. What is the next addition you want in your home?
Actually, a swimming pool. Though it’s not really feasible, considering the handful of sunny months that we have, I would definitely like to indulge in it at some point in my life.
8. Which is the best place in terms of architectural beauty in Nepal (historical)?
Bhaktapur, Patan Durbar Square, this fantastic project in Jomsom by ARCHIUM called Himalesque (must check it out). Lomanthang, Garden of Dreams, and of course Baber Mahal Revisited.
9. What are you working on at the moment and what do you have lined up for the future?
I just completed renovating an existing cafe, it’s called Haus Cafe in Jawalakhel. I am working on design on another project which will be revealed in due time.
10. Do you have a dream project that you want to work on?
I would love to design any public building for Nepal. I think the public buildings are the first impression of any country’s architectural beauty. I would like to be responsible for creating some public buildings for Nepal.
11. We saw you in the Yamaha RayZ promotions recently, and many other places in the media before that. When and how did your first appearance in front of the camera take place?
My first music video was some 10 years ago-courtesy Mr.Alok Nembang. He spotted me at a restaurant and approached me with an offer for an upcoming video. I was sold on the idea that the shooting was going to happen in Jomsom. After that, offers kept coming. If I had the time and was around town I would always oblige, the music videos I did helped me travel to many parts of Nepal.
12. If you were given complete control over the country as the Minister of Architecture (let’s assume there is such a thing), what would you do?
I would immediately bring together the greatest engineering and architectural minds of the country, to write a detailed building code book, and make sure it is implemented without any excuses. Then I would break down all illegal constructions as per the existing code book of Nepal.
13. Which one do you prefer? Complex Traditional Nepalese architecture or the more minimalistic contemporary designs?
I like both, I couldn’t choose one over the other. In fact one of my principals that guide my designs arethe complex traditions of Nepalese architecture, and culminating it with minimalist contemporary designs.
14. Given a chance to build a monumental structure that generations would recognize you by, where and what would you build?
I would restore Singha Durbar to its original glory, and make it the National Museum. Then,, I would destroy the absolutely shameful structures that surround that prime property. After which I would design an addition to the Singha Durbar that would illuminate the glory of the past and portray the radiance of the future.
15. Give us your definition of perfect lifestyle for men?
I think lifestyle is a very individual concept, henceforth universally I think if you are a happy man, happy in what you do, how you live, how you sleep at night, how you treat people and vice versa, it adds to a good lifestyle.
- Be good and polite to the opposite sex
- Listen as much as you would like to be heard
- Stop at zebra crossing for people (it irritates me to see when people drive over the crossing whilst people are waiting to cross the street)
- A well-tailored suit
- Membership at a health club
17. 7 things you would keep in your man cave?
- Well stocked kitchen and bar
- My dogs
- Espresso machine
- My bicycle
- A girl