Bijoy Ramachandran and Sunitha Kondur established Hundredhands in 2003, on their return to India after finishing their Master’s program at MIT, Cambridge, and working with US firms for a couple of years. “The aspirations of the practice have always been the same: to do responsible architecture that’s true to its context in terms of design, material and details; to question scale, character, spatial and visual impact and its effects on the public domain,” reveals Ramachandran.
“We were really lucky to start with institutional work for Hope Foundation, an NGO, to build a school and orphanage where the budgets were very limited. It made us think a lot about local materials, local weather patterns and, above all, to design a building that was cost-effective, but had details that still made the building interesting. It led us to approach all projects more consciously in making responsible choices for the project and the client.”
Their work for institutions and hotels from very early on in the practice, along with a few special interior projects, taught them enduring lessons. “During the process, we were able to articulate the work more with details that were developed very specific to our practice. We also got to explore a lot more materials and crafts that could be integrated into both, our architecture and interiors projects,” recalls Kondur. Hundredhands’ design philosophy has remained constant, but the way they approach different scales keeps evolving with time. “The effort it takes to design a small house, compared to a large school — both still need the same attention to detail, but on different scales,” Ramachandran emphasises.
Both architects, who value ‘mistakes’ for their ability to make one grow, take the betterment of the design environment seriously. They are involved in conducting an annual design workshop for students and young professionals (in association with the Vimal Jain Foundation and the Indian Institute of Management). They also hope to get opportunities to do some urban design projects that can impact the city at a larger level. “We hope we will keep on getting projects and clients who continue to inspire us to do great work and support our design philosophy,” they state. “We also hope that we can grow to be a well-respected medium-sized practice in the country.”

Looking Back

The Alila Bengaluru, one of Hundredhands’ first large projects, gave them an opportunity to work with Allies and Morrison from London (Hundredhands is an associated practice with Allies and Morrison). It was a wonderful experience to learn from the London firm’s keen sense of design and simplicity of work.

Looking forward

The Bangalore International Centre is a project that Hundredhands won in a competition almost five years ego and is now nearing completion. It has been a “challenging project,” admit the architects, but one they look forward to finishing soon.

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