For Karan Grover, architecture is a verb. As an explanation, the principal of Karan Grover Associates offers the ideology of his tutor John Turner, whose mentorship he enjoyed at Architectural Association, London. “Turner, whose claim to fame was his book Housing as a Verb, taught me that when you looked at housing as a number — which we did at that time in India, architecture was a noun; but if we talked about the act of building a home, it became a verb.”
Grover recalls that the time he decided he wanted to be an architect, he was at Mayo College and had opted for cardboard modelling as an elective. While he graduated as an architect from MSU Baroda, he believes he received his true grounding at Architectural Association. As a result, even though he aped the West in his design ideologies at that time, he ironically picked ‘Housing the urban poor in India’ as his post-graduate thesis.
Now, KGA — established in 1985 — has been a fervent believer that one’s culture and heritage provides clues to contemporary architecture and sustainable development that is relevant to the Indian context. From practising architects, students to young children, Grover continues to enthusiastically teach and recruit them into his social endeavour of culturally relevant and sustainable architecture and conservation of our Indian architectural heritage. His studio is, thus, a consortium of like-minded professionals who offer structure, landscaping and services as a single window service — where “interpretations of tradition” became the overarching design philosophy.
Grover is a frequent speaker at various national and international forums, annually addressing over 20,000 professionals and students pro bono, mostly on topics pertaining to sustainability and green architecture — a personal commitment he made to President Bill Clinton at the Clinton Global Initiative, New York, in 2006. He has been the keynote speaker at the India Green Building Congress for eight consecutive years. The academician in Grover hopes to continue to inspire young students and architects with his national and international lectures on the importance of tradition, working with the climate, and building people-responsive environments. “That is my goal! And I pray for the strength and ability to extend and promote the notion.”

Looking Back

The Bhasha Tribal Centre in Jaspur is a project that Grover considers a milestone for KGA. Grover shares that this all-brick complex provides a culturally relevant platform for the 9 million tribals in Gujarat to showcase their extraordinary work in embroidery, terracotta and metal.

Looking forward

The Vidhan Sabha at Naya Raipur is a project that KGA is most excited by. Having designed the Goa and Bihar Vidhan Sabhas, the firm has coalesced all their learnings and designed a powerful building that truly reflects the culture and purpose of the state of Chhattisgarh.

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