PRAXIS 16 | Manjunath & Co

An editorial project by Matter in partnership with Şişecam Flat Glass, PRAXIS investigates the work and positions of diverse contemporary architecture practices in India. This episode features B L Manjunath, founder of Bengaluru-based Manjunath & Co Structural Consultants. As one of the few structural designers in the country, Manjunath stresses on the role that co-creation and co-authorship play in his practice. Comprising of a team of engineers and architects alike, the practice intends to cultivate a culture of collaborative learning and collective ownership. The processes in the practice are led by rigorous observation, with design being the driver and structure being the facilitator to achieve a holistic vision. As part of a founding collective, Manjunath instituted Wadiyar Centre for Architecture, Mysuru where he believes his interaction with students encourages a reciprocal exchange of learning.




I am a civil engineer; I specialise in structures. My place is Bengaluru. I studied at Visvesvaraya College of Engineering. As usual, I was not exactly sure why I took engineering. I trained with Umesh B Rao Structural Engineers, a well-known practice in Bengaluru. [… ] My journey is about just following the path to learn and do as many varieties of projects. The patience helped me to be a part of that office for eleven years. One day I decided it was too much because I had been in the same place for a long time. […] By looking at opportunities, I decided to start. That is when I started my office called Manjunath & Co. with one draughtsman at home.


Today, we have thirty or thirty-five people and we believe in collaborative learning. We have architects from different parts of India, who come to our office to learn engineering. We have architects, engineers and some people who have passed SLC and then want to learn, model makers, etc. It is a studio where we debate, discuss and dialogue.

Our intention is to create, not to duplicate.


I started observing everything around me; because all of them are also subjected to the same natural forces as what we are building […]. When you start observing, you understand the language of the Earth. A language which is embedded on this earth. What is that language? What is dictating this beautiful life on this earth? —Gravity.

What I found was that most of the things that dictate the Earth are unseen. My journey was to see the unseen, in this process I started learning.


Calculations are not dictating, but they are supporting my thought process.

I do not start with calculations; I think to dream about something that is existing and look at that as the analogy of the building. Then I strengthen it with calculations.



I want to keep my studio very small because I prefer to see everything. The studio has team leaders, there is an architect and an engineer as a team leader. The architect is basically doing engineering here. The role of the architect is to sit with me, absorb the intent of the architect and then to conceptualise it in three-dimension.

The three-dimension conceptualisation is about looking at elements of structure without looking at materials. The skeleton of the structure is conceptualised three-dimensionally, this is how we discuss with architects. Having concurred on that we finally go into two-dimension and that is when we involve engineers. The engineers will get totally married to the architects who have done the concept and they start sending out the drawings.

[…] There is a lot of intensity in this. It is driven by our own thoughts. […] There are a lot of things which finally make the building beautiful. There are so many compromises in the whole process, I think we must negotiate that. It is interesting. Some projects are more or less dictated by structure, some are fifty-fifty, and some are aesthetically controlled so we do not have more space to manoeuvre with structures. […] We have about twenty-five or thirty people working and some of my senior employees have decided to work from home; since we know their minds, we can work. It is quite interesting.



I mostly take jobs of different scales. I break down the big projects into smaller scales and then I keep what interests me and then I concentrate on that. Always big jobs must be broken into small jobs […] I look at a language in the structures. If I am looking at repetition in a particular language, I will allow the language to be part of this big structure; in terms of columns, beams, frames whether they are orthogonal or diagonal; these are the languages which I decide. I call these jewels.

In big jobs, I will identify five or six jewels which I hold myself and elaborate it to create something. It can be a skylight, a fantastic staircase or even a canopy. These are jewels which make the building beautiful.


Right now, we are doing a lot of schools for Wipro and each school is different because it has a relation to the locale and the region. We are doing the Patna Science City, which is quite large, about 4.5-5 lakh square feet. There, we tried a language which is to a scale of my understanding but also beyond the scale. If I am doing exhibition spaces of 20 metres by 40 metres, how do you look at the enclosure to be in concrete which is almost an extrusion of mother Earth and how do I make the roof very light? How do I combine the steel and concrete? There is a language which you build not by looking at a project in a large scale. Sometimes you should come back to your scale and look at a staircase which can be a crafted staircase or a canopy.

This moving from a scale which is beyond your scale, and then to be part of that scale, is something which I am constantly moving; which also stretches my mind and it exposes me to a great possibility. The idea of the office is to be in the field which is not at a very closed scale. When I look at a building, I look at it in context to mother Earth and to the sky where I become invisible, but sometimes I come back to my scale to look at it. That is the reason why the creator is always invisible, the creator does not need to be there, what you create draws you to know about the creator.


I think what really matters is the intensity of your thought, there cannot be casualness in the thought. This word intensity is very interesting to me, intensity actually does not have day and night, there is no Sunday, holiday, working day or anything else. Intensity basically dictates the path to create. Intensity makes you seamless, there is no abruptness and that is what charges me and it helps me to create. […] To a great extent I do not enjoy when the whole building is done and my job is to only make sure that it stands, that is not my cup of tea because I want to be a part of the whole process to create. That is my interest and that is something from which I can derive energy to create, to be a part of the collaboration. That is how I am made.

That is why I call myself a co-collaborator or co-concept developer, I want to be in that field.


WCFA is very close to my heart in the sense that, we are eleven friends, ten architects and one engineer. I do some of their structures and then when we travel together, we see different parts of the world, we debate, we discuss. WCFA is an outcome of this whole experience. Right now when you look at WCFA, you actually see what we are. Each one of us is different by ourselves but there is a single thread which connects us and that is the passion towards the field. A passion which is seamlessly similar to everybody. Few of us are architects of different intensities and I am an engineer with my own interests, but we come together for a purpose because of our passion for the field. For me, at WCFA, rather than me giving, I learn a lot. I tell stories to the kids and then when I see what they create, it is a learning to me. It is so nice to see these uncorrupted, less cluttered, very frank minds which help me to see my thoughts in a very different way. […] Every week I go there, get energy, and I come back and then start working here.


With every project, I prefer it to be on the same thread from the very beginning, when I see the project after ten years, I am drawn to that age when I started that project. If a project does not give me a path to go back to the past, then the project does not make sense to me. A thread which I started and left open-ended has a lot of feel for me, if a project can draw me into the past of making, I am very happy. For me, these projects are going to age, they will undergo changes. […] The building is to stay on this earth, but what we perceived might not be the reality. How it ages is very important to me. Whichever buildings you have done, you have to go and see it because there is a lot of learning in that because the end user is actually the person who owns that project. If he/ she cannot maintain it, he/ she will change it, that gives us a way to learn or not to make that same mistake. […]



Rather than the names of the firms, collaboration is very important to me. In India and the subcontinent, I think what is missing is the mutual respect between collaborators.

If we can somehow bridge this gap between architects and engineers, I think we can start understanding and creating this mutual respect. This gap is too far at the present moment, to the extent that engineers feel that architects are dreaming and they do not think in reality. Whereas, architects feel that engineers are not up to the mark to be able to create. If there is some platform where there is an expression of collaboration and understanding, then I think the whole purpose will be seamless.

That is why you see a great amount of abruptness in the buildings. The buildings are either made beautiful or are made to ‘look’ beautiful. This is because the engineering is not married to the architecture. […] It is not just about engineering, it can be the services, it can be air conditioning, in fact it can be anything. This understanding of different faculties to create is what is important. The architect should know engineering to an extent where they can appreciate it, and similarly engineers should learn about architecture so that they can start appreciating. This overlapping should be very healthy. If it healthy then it makes sense.

Images and Drawings: © Manjunath & Co Structural Consultants
Filming: Vcams, Bengaluru
Editing: Gasper D’souza, White Brick Post Studio

Praxis is editorially positioned as a survey of contemporary practices in India, with a particular emphasis on the principles of practice, the structure of its processes, and the challenges it is rooted in. The focus is on firms whose span of work has committed to advancing specific alignments and has matured, over the course of the last decade. Through discussions on the different trajectories that the featured practices have adopted, the intent is to foreground a larger conversation on how the model of a studio is evolving in the context of India. It aims to unpack the contents, systems that organise the thinking in a practice.

The second phase of the PRAXIS initiative features established practices in the domain of contemporary architecture in India.

Praxis is an editorial project by Matter in partnership with Şişecam Flat Glass.

Şişecam Low-E Glass | Heat Control

Şişecam Flat Glass India Pvt Ltd

With a corporate history spanning more than 85 years, Şişecam is currently one of the world’s leading glass producers with production operations located in 14 countries on four continents. Şişecam has introduced numerous innovations and driven development of the flat glass industry both in Turkey and the larger region, and is a leader in Europe and the world’s fifth largest flat glass producer in terms of production capacity. Şişecam conducts flat glass operations in three core business lines: architectural glass (e.g. flat glass, patterned glass, laminated glass and coated glass), energy glass and home appliance glass. Currently, Şişecam operates in flat glass with ten production facilities located in six countries, providing input to the construction, furniture, energy and home appliances industries with an ever-expanding range of products.

Email: | W:

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.