19 April 2019

Interaction-Karan Grover, Owner, Karan Grover & Associates

Sound Architecture is a marriage between tradition and technology.

Karan Grover and Associates, architects, planners and interior designers based in Vadodara is the winner of all the Indian Awards for Excellence in Architecture and Interior Design; In 2004, Karan Grover became the first architect in the world to win the USGBC “Platinum” Award for the greenest building in the world. AR. KARAN GROVER, OWNER of KARAN GROVER AND ASSOCIATES spoke to PANJAMI VIVEK from CONSTRUCTION OPPORTUNITIES regarding the company’s philosophy and practices.

 

Kindly provide us an insight into your academic and professional background.

I studied in Baroda and did my Masters at the Architecture Association in London under the famous John Turner. His book, “Housing as a Verb” penned after he worked with the poor of Latin America was a great beginning for me. I came home and started a practice called ‘Patel and Grover Associates’ in Baroda. My partner’s name was Manoj Patel. Later we split and became Manoj Patel and Associates and Karan Grover and Associates. My association with Champaner Pavagadh taught me things no college taught. Eventually it led to my singlehandedly making it UNESCO’s World heritage site after a 22-year-old campaign.

 

 

Please share with us your take on the green concept and that of sustainability. Do geographical factors like climate, terrain and the like influence your projects?

Our textbooks are based on English Architecture which is totally irrelevant to India. My initial work was not in sync with India’s climate or roots or culture. Armed with my parallel education in Champaner, I decided to start my office with focus on architecture that was rooted in culture and tradition combined with technology. I wasn’t going backwards but was moving forward with a very strong base of tradition and culture. You will notice all my constructions having courtyards and jalis, that work with the climate, facing north south. East and West are closed encouraging wind directions.

Climatic influence is the basis of my design. The criteria are always the climate and the context you put the architecture of place instead of space. I feel that good architecture must respond to the climate and culture of the place than the space, In that respect, all our old buildings were sustainable.

 

 

Tell us of your contribution towards the green movement and also name the building materials you use in your projects.

Since the Platinum Award I have been trying to institute some Green Chapters around the country. I have been to 150 schools of architecture spreading the idea of green. I intend to make green and sustainability the core of architecture in 500 schools. Of course I use green building materials but it would be unethical to mention their names as it would be misconstrued as promotion. But 50 per cent of sustainability of a building happens in the design of it. If we build a north and south facing house with little or no opening on the east and west, the building will be 10 per cent cooler. 50 per cent of green sustainability is in design and remaining 50 per cent is on technology and materials. There are quite a lot green building materials available and I am very happy.

 

 

Tell us of the design software used by your firm

Design software used by our firm are Autocad and Sketchup. We are not very savvy.

 

 

Do you see yourself playing an active role in building India’s smart cities and contributing to urban planning?

I feel things which need to be prioritised are being forgotten or neglected with regard to smart cities. Smart cities are chasing smart infrastructure. But I think the culture of the city is very important. You build on the culture of the city and then imbibe sustainability. It is point number 7 on the priority list of smart cities. It must be point number 1. Because a city must be sustainable and all our old towns and cities were sustainable. What I am trying to do is include this point of sustainability of culture and heritage and learning from it because if you look at the heritage of Hyderabad, or that of Gujarat, it will give us a clue on how to build sustainably. If the climate is hot it is introverted, if the climate is cold there are many methods to build around it. There are introverted gardens you do not have landscape sitting in the building but we have landscape sitting within the building and so forth. On the urban planning domain I do a design charrette. When working for a project in Bhubaneshwar we got the Municipal Commissioner, Planning Authorities, Bhubaneshwar Development Authority and we did a workshop on how and where the city of Bhubaneshwar should grow. We have done charrettes in Bombay, Bhubaneshwar and also in Gwalior.

 

 

Please mention some prestigious projects you have completed mentioning case studies for the same.

In the year 2000 when President Clinton visited India, he was in Hyderabad. He advocated that the future was sustainability and how to use resources of the earth judiciously. Thus the idea of the CII was formed. Clinton invited Naidu along with an architect to explore the Green Movement in America. After four years the Green CII Business Centre in Hyderabad, won the Platinum Award which no American has won for building the greenest building in the world. So that set the norms for the green movement in India.

Climate is an integral part of our design process and we take note of characteristics of older buildings which suit our new building. So when we did the Institute of Plasma Research, which was the most sophisticated building in India, we built a building around 9 courtyards. Instead of using cooling towers we built 280 fountains sprouting water 8 feet high in a 13 lakh litre water body courtyard in the centre of the building. That cools the foundation and the building and it is an incredible courtyard.

 

 

Please tell us about projects in the pipeline and ongoing projects.

We have done, Vidhan Sabha in Goa, we are currently doing the Vidhan Sabha in Bihar, we are working with the Tatas in Bhubaneshwar, we are bidding for the Vidhan Sabha in Naya Raipur. We are doing a lot of institutional projects. To mention on-going projects, we are constructing the High Court in Patna which is large project right now.
 

 

Please give an insight into the trends in the market.

Going green is to be a major trend in India. 70 per cent of the buildings needed for 2030 are not built whereas America has already built what it needs by 2030. India and China are some of the biggest countries in the world and all are adopting sustainability so I believe that at one stage it is going to be very large.




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