Tanuja Kanvinde’s induction into the illustrious Kanvinde Rai & Chowdhury (KRC) happened gradually, graduating from employee to associate to partner. Her husband colleague had a similar trajectory — except that he began as a consultant before making it to partner. “The aspirations for the practice have been to remain rooted yet innovative in creating a built environment, and also to be able to contribute at a policy-making level with a reach to impact society,” they explain.
Their organic rise in the company gave both Tanuja and Sanjay the opportunity to understand the various nuances related to the creation of a project, the layers at which a design gets conceived and translated into reality. Aside from formal education, travel, observation and interaction with peers result in the evolution of an individual — and so it was for the both of them, but the core design philosophy remained steadfast. “Every project that is designed has the underlying principle of creating an environment that is ecologically balanced, contextual and responsive to the program brief, while providing a variation in the spatial quality,” reveal the duo. “Response to the physical and cultural context; maintaining the human scale irrespective of the scale of the project; integrating technological advances in materials and construction; having a dialogue with the users; and giving shape to their aspirations…are all various aspects which are integral to the practice.”
Tanuja, who has co-authored the monograph Achyut Kanvinde – Ākār, on Achyut Kanvinde, modernist master and KRC’s co-founder, highlights the challenge that a practice such as theirs faces in the present ‘bigger the better’ culture. “Boutique practices like ours, with personal involvement in projects, face a big challenge. But maintaining the essence and offering an integrated service of a high level, should overcome this. We are very hopeful that quality and merit of design, would eventually prevail.”
And based on their experience, what kind of ‘mistakes’ would Tanuja and Sanjay urge fellow architects and/or designers to avoid? “A certain amount of self-discipline and unity is essential on the part of architects. Avoid the practice of undercutting fellow professionals, as this eventually affects the quality of design and the level of service that the architect can provide,” they warn.

Looking Back

In the late ’90s, one significant project was the expansion of the academic buildings at IIT Kanpur, which gave a thrust to the practice. The challenge of adding to an existing landmark campus, integrating latest technology, energy-efficiency features, judicious use of materials, considering issues of maintenance and lifecycle.

Looking forward

Among their future projects to watch our for, is the design for the Research Park at IIT Gandhinagar. It involves negotiating a constrained site marked by ravines, resulting in a limited footprint with vertical development. The structure has been scaled by the use of terrace gardens at several levels.

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