Bauhaus, one of the most influential design and architecture movements of the 20th century, came to India via two brilliant young architects
At least a thousand buildings such as the The Indian Council for Cultural Relations in Delhi, and Nehru Science Centre, Mumbai, were built by Kanvinde, inspired by the Bauhaus philosophy. Rahman’s Bauhaus-inspired housing models were replicated in India’s cities in lakhs; his other projects, numbering around 150, included Rabindra Bhawan with the three National Akademis; the Calcutta Secretariat and the University Grants Commission of India in Delhi.
In a conversation between fellow architect Narendra Dengle and Kanvinde published in the Marg magazine, the latter had made his position amply clear: “Taking on grandfather’s clothes in the name of culture...that I am not agreeable to. Architecture must have its own clarity and purity.”
But when it came to government commissions, Kanvinde occasionally had to come up against a strong lobby resisting the straightforward adoption of the International Style, as Bauhaus was called in the countries that adopted it. Adding domes, chhatris and jaalis to the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) in Delhi, as he had to, when he built it, went against his grain, says his son.
Bauhaus’ heyday in India in official architecture was roughly till about 40-50 years after Independence, but Achyut Kanvinde adhered to the principles of modernism all through his life, says his son, Sanjay, also an architect.1
- 1. “Both Kanvinde and my father influenced the next generation of architects, so their influence lasted until the ’80s. These were men operating in an age when industrial-scale production of steel had not even begun, no large glass sheets were available, there were few cranes, buildings were built by artisans by hand,” says Ram. “And they still didn’t use ‘world-class’ or ‘iconic’ on the hoardings next to any building they put up, so common these days when architects draw attention to their own work in the hoardings.”