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The journey of ACHYUT KANVINDE


EARLY LIFE Kanvinde was born in Achara, in the Konkan region of Maharashtra, in 1916 in a large family. His mother died when he was two and his father was an arts teacher in Bombay. He was raised by his large extended family in the seclusion of the village, his father being away in Bombay where he was an art teacher in schools. Kanvinde EDUCATION Kanvinde had the calling of a painter and did enrol in an art school but the family decided that architecture would be a better profession for him, a living could be earned more easily. so entered the Architecture Department at Sir J.J. School of Art in 1935, the first of the three existing architecture programs in the country then. It was then headed by Claude Batley, who was also the premier architect of the country. Kanvinde graduated with distinction in 1941, but with the tumults of the World War and the rapidly spreading national struggle for independence, didnt get a steady job till 1943 when he joined the newly formed CSIR as an architect. Achyut Kanvinde attended Harvard Graduate school of Design in 1945 becoming the first Indian architect to have studied in America.


-TRADITIONAL INDIAN ARCHITECTURE Claude Batley introduced Kanvinde to the world of architecture. This was the period when Kanvinde learned to appreciate the values of Indian architecture. He was familiarized with its origins Architecture based on the exigencies of local climate, building materials and social conditions literate fusion of Western classical order with Indian building traditions IIM Ahemdabad climatological principles BATLEYS TEACHINGS

Batley in his teaching and his active practice maintained this new ideal of Architecture: it was a universal craft tailored rationally to regional parameters. In 1934, he published a volume of measured drawings of traditional Indian building and in his lectures he tried for an informed appreciation of the similarities and differences of Indian and European classical buildings. In his practice he avoided the loud, revolutionary eclat of the machine-age imagery popular in the west in favour of an archeologically literate fusion of Western classical order with Indian building traditions and coupled with sound climatological principles. His works and his thinking were obvious models for his students

Batley on Indian architecture,"its origins,

developments and decadence had followed the perfectly normal course of all the other world architectures and was inevitably based on the exigencies of local climate, building materials and social conditions".

Kanvinde remembers him as "a very important

man in shaping the outlook of many architects of my generation, also of the earlier generation"
A TURNING POINT IN KANVINDE S LIFEStarting from 1930s Indian pioneers anticipating the inevitable independent Indian Republic, were planning an ambitious series of Scientific and Technical institutions. This culminated in CSIR being formed in 1942. Plans were made to have the trained persons to translate these dreams to reality; technical education having been kept under much control in the colonial state in contrast with scientific or humanistic education, there were no Indian architects and engineers qualified to take these roles. Hence from CSIR, Kanvinde was chosen to do studies in planning and design of laboratory buildings as the first group of people under the Government of India fellowship. Kanvinde joined Harvard Masters programme of Architecture program in 1945 which was then being much acclaimed for its new fountainhead of functional and social promise of Modern Architecture under its migr director

Walter Gropius


Studying under walter gropius, kanvind developed a whole new outlook towards architecture. He was greatly influenced by the Bauhaus style, which later on was adopted in his various buildings.

Kanvinde was initially unprepared for the space concepts taught in Gropiuss school. Having studied under Batley, he was not conversant with the progressive imagery and techniques of the International style. But progressively what he was much affected by was the social order and the optimism implied by the Modernist paradigm. Gropiuss insistence for using space as a tool for expressing universal human values was what left most lasting influence on his mind. Thus, Kanvinde adopted the progressive imagery and techniques of the International style

Chief Architect of CSIR, 1947

Council of Scientific and Industrial Research

He graduated with a thesis on science laboratories, on which he had worked for most of his two years of study and as planned, returned to India in 1947 and was appointed as the Chief Architect of CSIR. During this period as the chief architect of CSIR, Kanvinde was influenced by many famous personalities including Vikram Sarabhai. He had a wide multidisciplinary vision, with his wife Mrinalini, a renowned exponent of classical dances he had even started Darpana, an institution of the performing arts.
During the construction of PRL, he met Kanvinde and became a close friend. He had helped found the ATIRA to do applied research of direct interest to industry and was its director. Kanvinde, naturally was the person chosen to build this institute which made him come in contact with the Ahmedabad textile- industrial society

Vikram Sarabhai

The first buildings to come up as the chief architect were ATIRA at Ahmedabad, completed in 1952 CSIR Headquarters at New Delhi, completed in 1953 PRL at Ahmedabad, completed in 1953 CEERI at Pilani, completed in 1955 CEERI



Private practice with architect Shaukat Rai

Kanvinde and Rai, 1955

The new potential of pursuing his own architectural vision made Kanvinde resign from his job in 1955 to found his practice with Rai. Sarabhai and others ensured a steady flow of works. The first buildings from this association were Darpana Dance School, at Ahmedabad, completed in 1962 Hariballabhdas House, at Ahmedabad, completed in 1968

University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore

National science centre, New Delhi

With Mallika and Dr. Sarabhai, Kanvinde gradually developed a common vision of architectural profession in the young nation tied with the other arts and humanities


The relation with Sarabhai having so deepened; Kanvinde was now being consulted on various matters. Dr.Sarabhai had helped to found the IIM in Ahmedabad in 1962, and worked as its honorary director. In this ideologically charged context, Kanvinde had an important role in Louis Kahns selection as the architect.

IIM in Ahmedabad Dr. Sarabhai died in 1971 and a quarter of a century of a memorable association came to an end. . Between 1947 to 1971, Dr. Sarabhai was responsible for creating more than 25 institutions in various fields of science, management, education, research and performing arts and Kanvinde was intimately involved with shaping most of those. Dr. Sarabhai was largely responsible in making Indian Space program as strong as it is today . The fact that Kanvinde earned the confidence and respect of such men reveals as much about the architect as about the patrons.

KANVINDE WORKS with VERGHESE KURIEN Verghese Kurien, another of the nation builders, began working with the farmers in 1949, after returning to India from Michigan State University, He organised a cooperative organization to help market milk directly to the consumers. After years of struggle, the cooperative began to produce dramatic results. In 1965 the NDDB was created replicate the program on a nationwide basis

For his institution's headquarters in Anand, Kurien turned to Kanvinde who started this major complex in 1967. In 1974, a major production facility at Mehsana was constructed In both the places, with an efficient functional organisation, a major concern was to respond to the sociocultural matrix of the users of the cooperative complex, who were poor farmers in a predominantly agrarian economy.



In addition to leading NDDB in its quest to improve world nutrition, Dr. Kurien played a key role in many other organizations. He is the chairman of the IRMA, which Kanvinde constructed from 1978. Currently a new phase in NDDB is being designed. With Kuriens patronage, Kanvinde had a lifetime involvement with this industry demonstrating how architects of vision need visionary clients to realise their ideas.

Milk processing plant, Mehsana





India attained independence on August15, 1947 with the new Prime Minister thundering from the constituent assembly session the new national agenda "to create a new nationunfettered by the traditions of the past"Though with the absolutist promise of Nehrus rapid industrialisation, mechanisation, and growth of the new country, the modernist vocabulary was often synonymous, it had to contend with Gandhis idealist vision of reliance on traditional technology, rural economy, frugality and moderation. Thus Kanvinde strategy became a

Jawaharlal Nehru

Mahatma Gandhi

Strict modernist vocabulary while preserving and reinterpreting Indian tradition

CSIR became the important vehicle for realising the Prime Ministers vision of a new India where science and technology played a central role. Kanvinde, in turn, became the architectural interpreter of the vision. The building programme was ambitious; targets were even set for turnovers of industries to be set up based on research carried out in the laboratories.

the Bauhaus-international modern style

The aim of the Bauhaus was a "unity of art and technology" to give artistic direction to industry, which was as lacking in 1919 as in the mid-19th century, when the Arts and Crafts movement began. Kanvinde was introduced to Bauhaus by non other than Walter Gropius.


Among his most important ideas was his belief that all design whether of a chair, a building, or a city should be approached in essentially the same way: through a systematic study of the particular needs and problems involved, taking into account modern construction materials and techniques without reference to previous forms or styles

Functionalists believed that the shape and form of a building should emerge out of the logical arrangement of spaces inside and not from any predetermined idea like symmetry. a building should only have features that were functionally necessary, and no non-functional decoration. Use of the latest technologies and industrial products in construction such as RCC and industrial doors and windows.


The various Bauhaus characteristics visible in Kanvinde's works would be

asymmetry severe blocky cubic shapes smooth, flat plain, undecorated surfaces complete elimination of all mouldings and ornament flat roofs very free planning adoption of steel-framed or reinforced-concrete post-and-slab


GANDHI KRISHI VIGYAN KENDRA,1913 latest technologies products in construction such as RCC

ATIRA at Ahmedabad, 1952 repetitive arrangements of windows

NATIONAL SCIENCE CENTRE, DELHI asymmetrical, cuboid forms



The lightness of logic

Rationalist that he was, Kanvinde liked to reveal the internal functions in a building (for example, office block, walkway, auditorium) as separate masses. These were then arranged in ways that were functional from inside and elegant from outside.

This analytical approach is evident in the buildings at IIT Kanpur that he designed in the 1950s.
Here he clearly separates parts of buildings according to their material, and also achieves a delicacy of effect. The library, for instance, is a Reinforced Cement Concrete (RCC) frame with infill walls in exposed brick. By inserting gaps and shadows between the concrete and brick components, Kanvinde was able to make rough and heavy materials look light.


National Insurance Academy, pune

The lightness of logic

That lightness spoke of the primacy of ideas over matter, of logic over contingency. It was a theme that never really left his architecture. It appears at the National Insurance Academy at Pune late in his career. On the one hand, the elevated walkways speak of a desire to float above the irregularity of the ground condition. On the other, they speak of efficient movement almost like on a conveyor belt. Either way, it is possible to detect a persistent reluctance to embrace a site or a context wholeheartedly in much of Kanvindes work. Yet, his work is often responsive to subtle needs of dwellers even if within the terms of a given problem.

Milk processing plant, Mehsana

Function with feelingRational yet humane

He was a self-effacing person, but his work helped shape some of the things we automatically expect in buildings today spaces were humane you felt welcome and comfortable. efficient function ,no wastage of space, elegant Kanvinde himself achieved this by seeking sculptural ideas in the functional needs of a building. For instance, Mehsana near Ahmedabad, he arranged ventilation shafts into an elegant arrangement of towers that make this industrial facility look elegant.



Rational yet humane size and scale


At one level, the humaneness is about size and scale. Even in more technologically-oriented projects, Kanvinde always tried to bring buildings down to a human scale. At IIT Kanpur, it was the slenderness of concrete members and the lightness of brick forms that helped The comfort of the people in the working environment was of utmost importance to Kanvinde. The building block was broken down into small office spaces opening into private terraces which acted as relaxation spaces.


Sense of placeconnection to the built heritage in a locality

At another level, humaneness can be about a sense of place, and a connection to the built heritage in a locality. Both emerge together at NIBM, perhaps uniquely in Kanvindes body of work.

There, Kanvinde chose to build in the local basalt stone (Deccan trap), common in older architecture in Maharashtra.
He also spread the low rhythmic buildings across a well landscaped site in such a way that walking from one set of spaces to another involves passing by (or through) gardens. From inside and out, the campus offers a series of comforting continuities across domains that are usually separated in urban life. The building thus redeems some of the promise of early modernism that had fired the young Kanvinde.


THE ACADEMIC BLOCK The Indian Institute of Technology was set up in industrial city of Kanpur in 1959. IIT Kanpur has a sprawling campus spread over an area of approx. 4.3 square km, just north-west of the city. Among all IITs, IIT Kanpur has the second largest campus (1,055 acres). The campus is a selfcontained community, with residences for students, faculty, and regular staff.

Places of Interaction
Kanvinde believed in healthy interaction between the students and the teachers and within students. He provided various courtyards and informal spaces which encouraged interaction.


ACADEMIC BLOCK WAS centrally located by Kanvinde He provided Segregated Pedestrian and Vehicular traffic. The yellow marked pathways depict the vehicular traffic whereas the blue marked pathways are pedestrian. The pedestrian pathways form a network through the entire academic complex The vehicular traffic is segregated from the academic block to avoid noise. Single entity- elevated pedestrian walkway


Pedestrian movement system

Sheltered and yet openness Protection from hot sun yet allowing breezes ELEVATED PATHWAYS are the typical features provided in the campus of IIT Kanpur. They connect various building blocks in the campus. They emerge and end in the building itself. The pathways have been designed keeping in mind the hot climate of kanpur so as to provide shelter and protection

Elevated pedestrian walkway


The Bauhaus influence in Kanvindes style is clearly visible in the buildings of IIT Kanpur.

FACULTY BUILDING cubic shapes smooth, flat plain, undecorated surfaces complete elimination of all mouldings and ornament flat roofs


The common characteristics in the buildings for exampleExposed red and brick curtain walls Exposed concrete frames provide uniformity buildings to the



Respecting the climatological conditions


Kanvinde always respected the local climate of the site in consideration. He created various sheltered spaces around and within the buildings to provide shade against the harsh summer sun

A view of the library in IIT Kanpur showing the sheltered pathways and the spaces which could also be used as interaction spaces


Computer centre, IIT Kanpur

terrace Research


Conf erenc e

Comput er

Researc h Compute r resear ch


Key punch


First floor PLAN

Ground floor PLAN

revealed the internal functions in a building as separate masses. arranged in ways that were functional from inside and elegant from outside.

Kanvinde strongly believed that the elevation of a structure should be defined by the functions inside. Unnecessary ornamentation were avoided.



Environment Science dept of IIT KanpurFive star rated building by GRIHA

The Environment Science dept of IIT Kanpur, a five star rated building is the crown of Kanvinde's works in the field of sustainability. Sun path analysis Appropriate design of external shades Efficient glazing 81 % area is daylight

Sustainability-Local Climate
The various building blocks are arranged in a zigzag pattern keeping in mind the position of the sun during different times in a day so that every block receives maximum sunlight




KANVINDE- THE MODERN INDIAN" ARCHITECT. when we approach the prevalent interpretations and descriptions of Kanvindes works, a sense of marvel cant be avoided at the complex associations and narratives behind their simplistic definitions. Kanvinde has been often referred as a "modern Indian" architect. In their book written to "attempt an impartial appraisal extending to the historical context from which, the architectural expression of India is evolving", Bhatt and Scriver assert that

"(his) early buildings were competent straightforward renditions of the Bauhaus aesthetic by a young convert to Gropiuss notions of architectural space defined by function",
Meanwhile introducing one of Kanvindes works in an Indian journal, Kalamdani claims that

"(he) is one of the few architects who has consciously attempted an application of the values of early modernismRemaining relatively unperturbed by passing fancies, swings of the pendulum, or the so-called vagaries of time".


Kanvinde neo Gandhian Brutalism By the end of 1960s Kanvindes expressive architectural palate of spatial and structural system as observed in his IIT, Kanpur and later in NDDB, Anand commissions were variously interpreted as

"an architectural expression that reflected the culture and aspirations" "clearly reflected the rise of the Brutalist polemic of architecture".
Expressed Concrete structure in combination with brick became the dynamic determinant of form and order. Here the paradox is that what (Brutalism) in the West was popular for the dynamism and the aesthetic of vigour, in neo-Gandhian India of 1970s is regarded a realistic and expressive product of India. In retrospect, that style shows a remarkable similarity with the brute morphology of vernacular architecture of various parts of India.

IIT Kanpur



"The crux of the matter is that we observe and assimilate and in the process discover ourselves. What we try to achieve or pursue in terms of aesthetics is a changing process. The aesthetics is essentially a conduct; aesthetics and ethics are the products of the same thing
In this process there are two aspects of his formative years that are manifested in his work On the one hand, he was raised in a rural environment where the tradition and moral conduct was nurtured. He was catapulted into the world of technology, avantgardism at Harvard. In rural India, the personal and the concrete were highly valued; (Fig.22) while in Gropiuss school the collective and the abstract were emphasised

The interactions of these two aspects of his experience and training constitute the essence of his evolution.



Speaking at the first Architect Achyut Kanvinde Memorial Lecture, Balkrishna Doshi hailed him as the pioneer of modern architecture in India

Although he came from an art deco architecture background, there was an aspiration in him, an aspiration to do something different in a country where things were changing at a fast pace, everyday, I believe as an architect, you cannot create what you are not, and going by this diktat, Kanvinde came across as a humane, sensitive individual. His buildings spoke volumes about his humanity and also indicated that he was searching for his own self, through his works, It was a time when everyday something new was being created and India was just coming to terms with its newly-acquired independent status. Kanvinde gave full rein to his innate creativity in such a charged environment,


In each of his buildings, whether residential, commercial or government complexes, one can see an attempt to break away from traditional architectural design and yet, design them keeping in mind all the aspects conducive to a great building (such as climate, use of space, orientation and aesthetics),

His ultimate concern was for his profession and for society and that came through quite effortlessly in all his works. Kanvinde traveled extensively across the country and always made it a point to carry books and magazines along. He used to say the long travels gave him time to read, reflect and introspect. Kanvindes stellar contribution can be summed up succinctly as that depicting plasticity, humility and humanity,



There are infinite number of concerns, influences and traditions that have shaped Kanvindes works and his assimilation and self-discovery is drawing him closer to his self, an elusive identity hidden and revealed by the palimpsest of human existence. A much deep-probing understanding of his life and his work responsive to his larger interests and concerns seems important to clarify the important phase of the political and social process in the creation in the new country which he shaped and guided. Humility and reticence are acclaimed hallmarks of his persona, which is one of the reasons his works have not been as widely known as they could be. Early this year, addressing the Indian architectural educators, he suggested, " The role which the schools have to play is to expose students to various situations and train them to cultivate and appreciate values so that they can experience and sharpen their senses through observation and practice". In the autumn of his distinguished life, his humanity and concerns need to be better understood.

Kanvinde- An architect less acclaimed for

It was Kanvinde and not as is widely believed Le Corbusier in his work in Chandigarh, who first introduced Modernism and the aesthetics of Function into the dormant Indian Architectural scene. What Kanvinde introduced was the Modern legacy of rational and pure structure. The state sponsored vision of New India, as Kanvinde had himself translated into architecture failed to offer this identity. Le Corbusiers Chandigarh had by this time been completed and these persons were sceptic of its wide-ranging acclaim and its relevance.. These concerns made Kanvinde organise the Lalit Kala Academy seminar in 1959 where Nehru himself addressed and responded to the professionals debate


Opening the discussion, Kanvinde observed that

"Our architectural expression is in a most confused state as there is neither clear thinking nor definite ideologythe architects who are confronted with problems peculiar to modern functional design have to, at the same time, create an architectural expression that would reflect the present-day culture of India"
Nehru retorted with "you may agree or

disagree with what has been attempted at Chandigarhbut it has changed your lives"


Kanvinde- critical acclaims

Kanvinde and Rai, was one of the most influential and productive architectural practices of India. His works have been much discussed in India and often emulated and he has himself received much personal recognition and professional accolade. The forgotten architect However neither in the international architectural discourse nor in the standard 20th century architectural historiographic literature have they been even mentioned. It is even more intriguing to find that they have rarely been discussed in the publications of last few decades when there was a spurt in the interest in non-Western, regional architecture and built work from the Indian subcontinent were noticed for the first time outside India. Moreover in the actual cases that they were discussed they have been interpreted as per the predilection(s) of the author(s) and categorised to conform to one or the other of the prevalent architectural movements. They have not received the critical attention that they deserve.

President of the Indian Institute of Architects (1974-6). Chairman of the Scientific and Finance Section of the Central Building Research Institute, Roorkee, (1970-75). served on juries for national and international competitions and projects lectured at the schools of architecture in New Delhi, Ahmadabad and Bombay.

1975 received the Padma Shree, a national award for excellence 1985 the Gold Medal of the Indian Institute of Architects.


BIBLIOGRAPHY Wikipedia F:\A.P Kanvinde\Achyut_Kanvinde.htm F:\A.P Kanvinde\alofsin.html F:\A.P Kanvinde\article_sick_buildg_syndrome.html F:\A.P Kanvinde\gkvk information.html F:\A.P Kanvinde\New CSE Building, F:\theory of design\indian-institute-oftechnology-kanpur_files\a.htm F:\A.P Kanvinde\IMAGES\webmap, BOOK REFERENCE Campus design in India and Miller


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