Studio culture – as with all manifestations of the human intellect – is the embodiment of a pattern of work that nurtures the craft of building. Architecture workspaces are especially readable in this context as architects are, in this case, designing for themselves. With every workplace as distinct and specific as the work it produces, the people who design and work in these environments reveal their ideas in the space.
In this edition of the STUDIO series, we enquire about the early beginnings and work ethics of a long standing studio-culture of the Chennai-based practice Nataraj and Venkat Architects, founded by V S Nataraj and A Venkat in 1984.
A quiet pathway trails into the studio space, where dappled sunlight gently wraps its facade forming an interplay of shadows, materials and textures. Chennai-based Nataraj & Venkat Architects [NVA] is a 30-year-old design practice, and is among the city’s pioneering firms renowned for their contemporary vernacular architecture. In a brief conversation with ThinkMatter, Principal Architect A Venkat discusses the making of a successful practice with a philosophy rooted in collaboration, competition and consciousness. Continue reading STUDIO: Nataraj and Venkat Architects→
The jury for The Merit List 2018-19 cycle in a conversation moderated by Mahesh Radhakrishnan of MOAD, discusses projects in the context of issues that concern practice, pedagogy and built environment that emerged in the evaluation process.
The Jury (2018-19 Cycle)
Brinda Somaya, Somaya and Kalappa Consultants, Mumbai.
Dean D’Cruz, Mozaic, Goa.
Riyaz Tayyibji, Anthill Design Studio, Ahmedabad.
Rajiv Soni, Communications Expert and Photographer, Kolkata.
Vijay Narnapatti, mayaPRAXIS, Bengaluru.
Mary Norman Woods pens a tribute to Kamu Iyer – one of Mumbai’s most cherished architects and a much respected member of the design community in India. With his passing, we lose one of the last few keepers of the conscience of our profession – a citizen-architect who loved Mumbai and was perpetually engaged with the fate of the city through his work, his writings and his activism.
The tribute is followed by a reproduced dialogue between Kamu Iyer, Brinda Somaya and Mary Woods titled ‘Working from Mumbai‘ originally published in Brinda Somaya’s monograph titled ‘Works & Continuities’.
Kamu Iyer (1932-2020)
Mourning and Celebrating a Friend and Mentor
Albert Mayer, American architect and planner who worked in post-Independence India, wrote about his excitement at being present at the birth of a nation. Throughout his seven decades of practice, teaching, writing, and mentoring, Kamu Iyer sustained and nurtured the “tingling atmosphere of plans and expectation” envisioned by Indians of “ability, outlook, energy, and devotion” that so impressed and inspired Mayer. Kamu embodied the ideals of the Independence struggle and hopes for a free India in his life and work. He was a mahatma, a great soul who touched so many and whose like we will not see again. Continue reading In Memoriam: Kamu Iyer; A Tribute by Mary N. Woods→
A Recorded Lecture from FRAME Conclave 2019: Modern Heritage
In this lecture, Ranjit Hoskote postulates a portrait of Charles Correa as a curator. He speaks about Correa’s contribution to culture at large and his preoccupation with societal institutions albeit being an architect.
Since I have 35 minutes, I am not really going to try and engage with absolutely everything that Charles Correa built in the course of a magnificent career. I am going to try and focus on a very particular strand in his work, his preoccupation with cultural institutions, and through what I have to say, I am going to try and develop provisionally a portrait of the architect as not only a member of a particular profession but as a contributor to ‘culture’ at large.
Charles Correa’s architecture was really part of my growing up in Bombay. Whether it was the Salvacao Church or Kanchenjunga, these were part of the urban fabric, part of the way in which one experience the city and part of what one identified with one’s home city. But also in the course of my professional life, there are Correa buildings to which I have often returned, where I have sometimes done things and which again have been part of my consciousness in my being. I am thinking particularly here of the Crafts Museum in Delhi, indeed the Kala Academy, the Jawahar Kala Kendra in Jaipur, the British Council building in Delhi and Bharat Bhavan in Bhopal. Also, on a far more personal note, my wife and I spent for many years our New Year holidays in a Charles Correa house, a spare elegant home that Charles designed for his and our friend, the artist Mehlli Gobhai in a chikoo orchard in Gholvad. To be there around Christmas and the turn of the year, every year, was very special. It is still a visceral experience that remains with me. Last year as part of an exhibition called ‘The Sacred Everyday‘, which I curated for the Serendipity Arts Festival here at the Adil Shah Palace, I thought that it might not be out of place to have, so to speak, a shrine that honoured the way in which Correa dealt with these questions of the ‘Circulation of the Sacred in the Everyday’ and how one might by means, both mythic and material, invoke these larger contexts of being so. But I am not going to talk about this today, I am actually going to move on.
On the 14th of January, 2020, Aziz Kachwalla met with a tragic and fatal accident. Aziz Kachwalla’s work pushed the limits of material understanding through an involved and iterative design process, for objects that he often co-authored with architects and designers his firm worked with. His work demonstrated an intuitive grasp of the nature of materials he worked with, and he was often instrumental in the development of decisive details for complex design issues in products and spaces. A contextual and textural comprehension enabled him to create organic and surreal products, emanating the honesty from which they were conceived.
To many, Aziz was an enabler, a co-conspirator and a bridge to a good product, a complex spatial assembly or a new way of looking at a material. There are very few individuals of his calibre today, who appreciate the finesse and humility demanded to execute compelling ideas with dexterity. This editorial was originally authored by Anusha Narayanan in June 2018 for [IN]SIDE Volume 01 and Issue 02. This article is republished in memory and as a tribute to Aziz Kachwalla.
ORIGINAL: Edited from 2018 text.
With over 20 years in the product, industrial and interior design space, Aziz Kachwalla runs a practice around experimentation with materials and forms overlaid with fine craftsmanship. He is also a frequent collaborator for other architects, designers and artists of renown.
The space/studio Aziz works out of now, is a double-heighted, gritty, imperfect yet honest warehouse-turned-workshop tucked away in one of the lanes of Mazgaon, Mumbai. It has nothing to hide, no lies or pretense, similar to the nature of the designs it is home to. Resembling a theatre backstage, pieces are strewn about the space but upon observation, the emphasis on understanding each material is hard to miss. Continue reading In Memoriam: The Objects of Aziz Kachwalla→