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, didn’t 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.
EXPERIENCE UNDER CLAUDE BATLEY
-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 BATLEY’S 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
"…its origins. technical education having been kept under much control in the colonial state in contrast with scientific or humanistic education. also of the earlier generation"
A TURNING POINT IN KANVINDE’ S LIFEStarting from 1930s Indian pioneers anticipating the inevitable independent Indian Republic. This culminated in CSIR being formed in 1942. building materials and social conditions".Batley on Indian architecture. Kanvinde joined Harvard Master’s 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 émigré director
. there were no Indian architects and engineers qualified to take these roles.
Kanvinde remembers him as "a very important
man in shaping the outlook of many architects of my generation. were planning an ambitious series of Scientific and Technical institutions. 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.
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. Hence from CSIR. Plans were made to have the trained persons to translate these dreams to reality.
Kanvinde was initially unprepared for the space concepts taught in Gropius’s school. which later on was adopted in his various buildings. he was not conversant with the progressive imagery and techniques of the International style.Experience under WALTER GROPIUS – THE BAUHAUS STYLE
Studying under walter gropius. Gropius’s insistence for using space as a tool for expressing universal human values was what left most lasting influence on his mind. But progressively what he was much affected by was the social order and the optimism implied by the Modernist paradigm. kanvind developed a whole new outlook towards architecture. Having studied under Batley. Thus. Kanvinde adopted the progressive imagery and techniques of the International style
. He was greatly influenced by the Bauhaus style.
he met Kanvinde and became a close friend. Kanvinde was influenced by many famous personalities including Vikram Sarabhai. a renowned exponent of classical dances he had even started Darpana. Kanvinde.Chief Architect of CSIR.industrial society
. naturally was the person chosen to build this institute which made him come in contact with the Ahmedabad textile. returned to India in 1947 and was appointed as the Chief Architect of CSIR. He had helped found the ATIRA to do applied research of direct interest to industry and was its director. with his wife Mrinalini. 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.
During the construction of PRL. During this period as the chief architect of CSIR. He had a wide multidisciplinary vision. an institution of the performing arts.
completed in 1953 •CEERI at Pilani. completed in 1953 •PRL at Ahmedabad. completed in 1955 CEERI
. completed in 1952 • CSIR Headquarters at New Delhi.The first buildings to come up as the chief architect were • ATIRA at Ahmedabad.
completed in 1962 •Hariballabhdas House. at Ahmedabad. 1955
The new potential of pursuing his own architectural vision made Kanvinde resign from his job in 1955 to found his practice with Rai. Bangalore
National science centre. at Ahmedabad. New Delhi
With Mallika and Dr.Private practice with architect Shaukat Rai
Kanvinde and Rai. Sarabhai and others ensured a steady flow of works. Sarabhai. The first buildings from this association were •Darpana Dance School. completed in 1968
University of Agricultural Sciences. Kanvinde gradually developed a common vision of architectural profession in the young nation tied with the other arts and humanities
. Sarabhai died in 1971 and a quarter of a century of a memorable association came to an end.KANVINDE’S WORKS WITH DR. Sarabhai was largely responsible in making Indian Space program as strong as it is today . research and performing arts and Kanvinde was intimately involved with shaping most of those. SARABHAI
The relation with Sarabhai having so deepened.
IIM in Ahmedabad Dr. Dr. In this ideologically charged context. The fact that Kanvinde earned the confidence and respect of such men reveals as much about the architect as about the patrons. Kanvinde was now being consulted on various matters. education. Between 1947 to 1971. Kanvinde had an important role in Louis Kahn’s selection as the architect.
.Sarabhai had helped to found the IIM in Ahmedabad in 1962. management. and worked as its honorary director. Dr. Sarabhai was responsible for creating more than 25 institutions in various fields of science. Dr.
after returning to India from Michigan State University. began working with the farmers in 1949. another of the ‘nation builders’. In 1974. with an efficient functional organisation. a major production facility at Mehsana was constructed In both the places.KANVINDE WORKS with VERGHESE KURIEN Verghese Kurien.
. In 1965 the NDDB was created replicate the program on a nationwide basis
For his institution's headquarters in Anand. a major concern was to respond to the sociocultural matrix of the users of the cooperative complex. the cooperative began to produce dramatic results. After years of struggle. Kurien turned to Kanvinde who started this major complex in 1967. He organised a cooperative organization to help market milk directly to the consumers. who were poor farmers in a predominantly agrarian economy.
Dr. He is the chairman of the IRMA. which Kanvinde constructed from 1978.In addition to leading NDDB in its quest to improve world nutrition. Mehsana
. Currently a new phase in NDDB is being designed. With Kurien’s patronage.
Milk processing plant. Kurien played a key role in many other organizations. Kanvinde had a lifetime involvement with this industry demonstrating how architects of vision need visionary clients to realise their ideas.
THE0RY & PHILOSOPHY
Kanvinde.The ARCHITECTURAL INTERPRETER
India attained independence on August15. rural economy. in turn. frugality and moderation. The building programme was ambitious. 1947 with the new Prime Minister thundering from the constituent assembly session the new national agenda "to create a new nation…unfettered by the traditions of the past…"Though with the absolutist promise of Nehru’s rapid industrialisation. targets were even set for turnovers of industries to be set up based on research carried out in the laboratories. the modernist vocabulary was often synonymous.
. it had to contend with Gandhi’s idealist vision of reliance on traditional technology. mechanisation. Thus Kanvinde strategy became a
Strict modernist vocabulary while preserving and reinterpreting Indian tradition
CSIR became the important vehicle for realising the Prime Minister’s vision of a new India where science and technology played a central role. and growth of the new country. became the architectural interpreter of the vision.
or a city — should be approached in essentially the same way: through a systematic study of the particular needs and problems involved.
Among his most important ideas was his belief that all design — whether of a chair. and no non-functional decoration.
. Kanvinde was introduced to Bauhaus by non other than Walter Gropius.the Bauhaus-international modern style
The aim of the Bauhaus was a "unity of art and technology" to give artistic direction to industry. •Use of the latest technologies and industrial products in construction such as RCC and industrial doors and windows. a building. when the Arts and Crafts movement began. •a building should only have features that were functionally necessary. 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. which was as lacking in 1919 as in the mid-19th century.
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. cuboid forms
. DELHI asymmetrical.
and also achieves a delicacy of effect.
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. office block. These were then arranged in ways that were functional from inside and elegant from outside.IIT KANPUR
The lightness of logic
Rationalist that he was. walkway. for instance. Kanvinde liked to reveal the internal functions in a building (for example. is a Reinforced Cement Concrete (RCC) frame with infill walls in exposed brick. auditorium) as separate masses. Kanvinde was able to make rough and heavy materials look light. •By inserting gaps and shadows between the concrete and brick components. The library.
.National Insurance Academy. • Either way. his work is often responsive to subtle needs of dwellers even if within the terms of a given problem. •Yet. the elevated walkways speak of a desire to float above the irregularity of the ground condition. On the other. of logic over contingency. •It appears at the National Insurance Academy at Pune late in his career. it is possible to detect a persistent reluctance to embrace a site or a context wholeheartedly in much of Kanvinde’s work. It was a theme that never really left his architecture. On the one hand. pune
The lightness of logic
That lightness spoke of the primacy of ideas over matter. they speak of efficient movement almost like on a conveyor belt.
Function with feelingRational yet humane
He was a self-effacing person. he arranged ventilation shafts into an elegant arrangement of towers that make this industrial facility look elegant.no wastage of space.
. For instance. •efficient function . elegant Kanvinde himself achieved this by seeking sculptural ideas in the functional needs of a building.Milk processing plant. Mehsana near Ahmedabad. but his work helped shape some of the things we automatically expect in buildings today — •spaces were ‘humane’ •you felt welcome and comfortable.
Rational yet humane size and scale
b-iit-kanpur. the humaneness is about size and scale. Even in more technologically-oriented projects. The building block was broken down into small office spaces opening into private terraces which acted as relaxation spaces. httpwww.
At one level. •At IIT Kanpur.admissiondiary. 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. Kanvinde always tried to bring buildings down to a human scale.
NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF BANK MANAGEMENT (NIBM) Pune. perhaps uniquely in Kanvinde’s body of work.
•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.
Sense of placeconnection to the built heritage in a locality
At another level. and a connection to the built heritage in a locality. From inside and out. common in older architecture in Maharashtra. The building thus redeems some of the promise of early modernism that had fired the young Kanvinde.
. humaneness can be about a sense of place. 1985. Both emerge together at NIBM.
•There. the campus offers a series of comforting continuities across domains that are usually separated in urban life. Kanvinde chose to build in the local basalt stone (Deccan trap).
The campus is a selfcontained community. with residences for students.055 acres). IIT Kanpur has the second largest campus (1.
. and regular staff. faculty. IIT Kanpur has a sprawling campus spread over an area of approx. 4.3 square km. He provided various courtyards and informal spaces which encouraged interaction. just north-west of the city.THE ACADEMIC BLOCK The Indian Institute of Technology was set up in industrial city of Kanpur in 1959. Among all IITs.
Places of Interaction
Kanvinde believed in healthy interaction between the students and the teachers and within students.
The yellow marked pathways depict the vehicular traffic whereas the blue marked pathways are pedestrian.elevated pedestrian walkway
•ACADEMIC BLOCK WAS centrally located by Kanvinde •He provided Segregated Pedestrian and Vehicular traffic. •Single entity. •The pedestrian pathways form a network through the entire academic complex •The vehicular traffic is segregated from the academic block to avoid noise.IIT KANPUR.
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 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
. They connect various building blocks in the campus.
The Bauhaus influence in Kanvinde’s style is clearly visible in the buildings of IIT Kanpur. flat plain. undecorated surfaces •complete elimination of all mouldings and ornament • ‘flat’ roofs
LECTURE HALL COMPLEX
The common characteristics in the buildings for example•Exposed red and brick curtain walls •Exposed concrete frames provide uniformity buildings to the
FACULTY BUILDING •cubic shapes • smooth.
Respecting the climatological conditions
BUILDING STRUCTURESsheltered spaces
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
Kanvinde strongly believed that the elevation of a structure should be defined by the functions inside.
. •arranged in ways that were functional from inside and elegant from outside. Unnecessary ornamentation were avoided. IIT Kanpur
Conf erenc e
Researc h Compute r resear ch
First floor PLAN
Ground floor PLAN
•revealed the internal functions in a building as separate masses.Computer centre.
Environment Science dept of IIT KanpurFive star rated building by GRIHA
The Environment Science dept of IIT Kanpur. •Sun path analysis •Appropriate design of external shades •Efficient glazing •81 % area is daylight
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
. a five star rated building is the crown of Kanvinde's works in the field of sustainability.
ACHYUT KANVINDEThe Architect
when we approach the prevalent interpretations and descriptions of Kanvinde’s works. swings of the pendulum. the architectural expression of India is evolving". or the so-called vagaries of time". Bhatt and Scriver assert that
"(his) early buildings were competent straightforward renditions of the Bauhaus aesthetic by a young convert to Gropius’s notions of architectural space defined by function".THE “MODERN INDIAN" ARCHITECT.
. 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.
Meanwhile introducing one of Kanvinde’s works in an Indian journal. a sense of marvel can’t be avoided at the complex associations and narratives behind their simplistic definitions.KANVINDE. Kalamdani claims that
"(he) is one of the few architects who has consciously attempted an application of the values of early modernism…Remaining relatively unperturbed by passing fancies.
that style shows a remarkable similarity with the brute morphology of vernacular architecture of various parts of India.Kanvinde – neo Gandhian Brutalism By the end of 1960s Kanvinde’s expressive architectural palate of spatial and structural system as observed in his IIT. in neo-Gandhian India of 1970s is regarded a realistic and expressive product of India.
. Here the paradox is that what (Brutalism) in the West was popular for the dynamism and the aesthetic of vigour. In retrospect.
Expressed Concrete structure in combination with brick became the dynamic determinant of form and order. 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". Kanpur and later in NDDB.
avantgardism at Harvard.22) while in Gropius’s 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. he was raised in a rural environment where the tradition and moral conduct was nurtured. What we try to achieve or pursue in terms of aesthetics is a changing process. • He was catapulted into the world of technology. In rural India. the personal and the concrete were highly valued. 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. (Fig. The aesthetics is essentially a conduct.KANVINDE VIEWS HIS OWN WORK AS A CHANGING PROCESS
"The crux of the matter is that we observe and assimilate and in the process discover ourselves.
” “I believe as an architect.”
. you cannot create what you are not. Kanvinde came across as a humane. Balkrishna Doshi hailed him as the pioneer of modern architecture in India
“Although he came from an art deco architecture background.” “It was a time when everyday something new was being created and India was just coming to terms with its newly-acquired independent status. and going by this diktat. an aspiration to do something different in a country where things were changing at a fast pace. Kanvinde gave full rein to his innate creativity in such a charged environment. sensitive individual. there was an aspiration in him.BALKRISHNA DOSHI ON KANVINDE
Speaking at the first Architect Achyut Kanvinde Memorial Lecture. through his works. everyday. His buildings spoke volumes about his humanity and also indicated that he was searching for his own self.
reflect and introspect. Kanvinde’s stellar contribution can be summed up succinctly as that depicting plasticity.”
“His ultimate concern was for his profession and for society and that came through quite effortlessly in all his works.“In each of his buildings. humility and humanity. one can see an attempt to break away from traditional architectural design and yet. use of space.”
. He used to say the long travels gave him time to read. Kanvinde traveled extensively across the country and always made it a point to carry books and magazines along. orientation and aesthetics). design them keeping in mind all the aspects conducive to a great building (such as climate. commercial or government complexes. whether residential.
In the autumn of his distinguished life. which is one of the reasons his works have not been as widely known as they could be. an elusive ‘identity’ hidden and revealed by the palimpsest of human existence.KANVINDE. 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. he suggested.
. influences and traditions that have shaped Kanvinde’s works and his assimilation and self-discovery is drawing him closer to his self. Early this year.THE HUMANITARIAN
There are infinite number of concerns. Humility and reticence are acclaimed hallmarks of his persona. addressing the Indian architectural educators. " 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". his humanity and concerns need to be better understood.
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’.Kanvinde. Le Corbusier’s Chandigarh had by this time been completed and these persons were sceptic of its wide-ranging acclaim and its relevance.An architect less acclaimed for
It was Kanvinde and not as is widely believed Le Corbusier in his work in Chandigarh. These concerns made Kanvinde organise the Lalit Kala Academy seminar in 1959 where Nehru himself addressed and responded to the professionals’ debate
. who first introduced Modernism and the aesthetics of Function into the dormant Indian Architectural scene.
Kanvinde observed that
"Our architectural expression is in a most confused state as there is neither clear thinking nor definite ideology…the architects who are confronted with problems peculiar to modern functional design have to. 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 Chandigarh…but it has changed your lives"
.Opening the discussion. at the same time.
Kanvinde and Rai. The forgotten architect However neither in the international architectural discourse nor in the standard 20th century architectural historiographic literature have they been even mentioned.Kanvinde.
. 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. 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. 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. regional architecture and built work from the Indian subcontinent were noticed for the first time outside India.
• served on juries for national and international competitions and projects •lectured at the schools of architecture in New Delhi. Ahmadabad and Bombay. Roorkee. (1970-75). •Chairman of the Scientific and Finance Section of the Central Building Research Institute.
. a national award for excellence •1985 the Gold Medal of the Indian Institute of Architects.PORTFOLIOES
•President of the Indian Institute of Architects (1974-6).
•1975 received the Padma Shree.
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