​“Make mistakes,” says Krishna Rao Jaisim, an architect who needs no introduction. “I started (with) personal disasters and failures — and they have made me bolder, stronger with the mind and spirit to conquer.” Backed by this fearless attitude, he set up Jaisim Fountainhead in 1970, and soon an experimental approach to design became his forte. His own house in Chennai was his first independent project, where he invested not only all of his early savings, but everything he believed about space and dimension.
He embraced every project that came his way, giving each project its depth of comprehension. “My only objective was, and is, in (creating) spaces conforming to time, playing with technology to make the arts perform to their spiritual dimension, keeping in mind the raga of objectivity,” says the architect. So unconventional was his work that students (“they are big names today”) flocked to the practice and preferred it over their classrooms.
​Within two years, the practice leaped beyond boundaries, winning awards and handling projects of varied scale, from homes, international stadiums, auditoriums, beach resorts, luxury hotels to industries. ​“Originality without being different for the sake of being different; every material researched to discover new avataars; going beyond the specifications; every step an adventure,” is how Jaisim approached these projects. It has been five decades​ now, and the architect prefers to spend time with young minds — as a design chair, visiting professor and advisor at many schools of architecture. “I seek amongst the youth those few scattered ones who (are looking for) new dimensions, and guide them towards a future across set syllabuses that will make them proud of finding their own direction.”
For Jaisim, the real reward of all these years of practice is to see his philosophy come alive in other practices all over the world. “When I get a call for some advice or hand holding, it brings great joy and the sense of having achieved (something),” says the architect, whose next best contribution to the design community will be as a mentor.

Looking Back

In the ’70s, Jaisim designed the small industries pavilion in Delhi, inspired by Buckminster Fuller’s Geodesic Domes; and the 15,000sq-ft Cochin Football Stadia with four inverted shells and just four columns, which stands even today. “I sometimes wonder how I had the guts to do these,” reminisces Jaisim about these projects.

Looking forward

Through an invitation-based competition, Jaisim was awarded the SSU University in Bhubaneswar. Located in the midst of abandoned open mines, the buildings will be placed within the pits of mined spaces, “floating” over a man-made lake. “The project has started with deviations, but I hope someday it will see some light,” muses Jaisim.

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