Shankar Kanade, Architect: Illustrated Profile
Jalavayu Vihar Township, Bangalore is a unique urban-scape. The township is not an assembly of stereotypical blocks. The varied skyline of the buildings, the shaded lanes that connect to open spaces add to the human scale. There are many elements that are rooted in traditional Indian towns. Perhaps they come from mimetic memory! These photographs show how the inmates have used their skills in plantation to add their signature. In this the complex helps to flower human potential. (This is an updated post.)
|Shankar N. Kanade at Jalavayu Vihar|
SHANKAR NIVRUTTI KANADE, my classmate, and friend for fifty years, is based in Bangalore and practices architecture and planning with his brother Navanath.
He has been teaching since 1960s, first at the Ahmadabad School of Architecture (now CEPT), later in various colleges in Karnataka. He, with others, founded department of architecture in Hassan in Karnataka. He also set up a course/ curriculum for another college.
|The user use their autonomy to add in finishing touches|
Kanade, on his own initiative, developed an indigenous construction technology, known as “Chhapadi” in Karnataka. It is highly labour intensive and uses local resources – people and materials. He worked on this system without any institutional support or finance. He designed and built several houses including his own, and mass housing for public sector.
Despite his friends’ advice he never took a patent for this product. Now others are using it. I heard that someone got an award for her/his design that used the technology. But the important factor is the unskilled/ skilled workers have learnt something new and benefited. His “pro-poor” product empowers the poor to earn livelihood.
|The gateway holds o.h. water tank|
|The township features traditional lanes|
|Plantation added by the user|
|The major material is local granite|
When I returned there were friends gathered at Kanade's home. Architect Sanjay Mohe asked, ‘What did Remi see?’ Absentmindedly I replied, ‘Remi saw tiny honeybees busy’.
|Kanade brothers use tropical sun to best advantage|
|Movement through different scales|
When Kanade came to Mumbai to study architecture, from his village in Sholapur district on the border of Maharashtra - Karnataka states, for some time he, with two other friends, lived in a slum in Santacruz. They called their home, “Chandramauli”, meaning a hut where moonlight penetrates through its roof (so also rainwater). Sounds romantic while reading!
|Kanade's architecture is user-friendly|
In some other country, Kanade would have received invitation form every college and association of architects. But who takes notice here? He is neither a foreigner nor foreign returned. Perhaps there is no budget provided for such luxury. What about his students and apprentices, who might have joined teaching?
|Multiple uses of open spaces|
|Play of shade and light everywhere|
Crores of Rupees are invested in establishment, infrastructure and running the colleges, besides the youth energy and their creativity that is spent on the campuses. [I raised this issue in my article, “Letters and Number plus Things to Make”, published in the JIIA, January2000 (edited version), and in ARCHeFUNDA, September 2000, (full text) edited by Prof. Harimohan Pillai.
|Open spaces are connected lanes|
|There is movement in skyline too!|
|Shankar and Navanath Kanade at Jalavayu Vihar|
I personally may not agree on many established points regarding education, architecture and aesthetics, which I made public in my paper “Architecture and Biodiversity in India”. By their silence, my friends – Kanades and others, and the Indian fraternity of architects about this paper, I believe it remains controversial. The simplistic reason, I guess is the status quo attitude of educationists, which is typical of the bureaucrats. Yet, Kanade’s contribution to the building technology remains unique.
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Remigius de Souza