Prof. Krishna Rao, JAISIM
The ODYSSEY of Jaisim-Fountainhead- In the Architect’s own words.
SIX 'n' forty years of professional practice, in the labyrinth of architecture creating spaces in time, the lows and highs of an adventure that has sustained and evoked many a laudable smile across boundaries. Evoking in the spirit of youth, the potential this arena holds for the brave and willing, with age as no barrier, only the willingness to accept the challenge to change the pattern while hugging the spirits.
I free myself from specific projects, which are but beads of value on a string of necklace and devote attention to the fascinating necklace alone. The beads are a pattern of history, evolving the culture of fountainhead over the years, as it passages through time. Here and there I might anchor a few thoughts, only to sense the journey.
1970, after four years (1966 to 1970) of intense learning with L. M. Chitale & Son, which followed five years of study (!) in the School of Architecture Madras (1961 to 1966), launched Jaisim-Fountainhead (JF), inspired by the book 'The Fountainhead' by Ayn Rand. The same year, also married Geeta, who made it fiscally possible for me to dabble into my passion, without fear or favor.
My first project, EGO, was a home for us on the sands of Kalakshetra beach, Madras. Influence of Mies van der Rohe's minimalism and the arrogance fueled by Ayn Rand's Objectivism saw this through challenging many norms and conventions. This opened new vistas and visions for those who dared to walk in. These sustained the first few years, but they were from a wandering office, which had no roots.
P.S. Sivasubramaniam, a phenomenal structural consultant and Uttam Reddy, a finance consultant, anchored JF by giving us office space. This nest drew many young spirited rebelling students to walk in and add fuel.
Suddenly clientele flocked in big numbers, curious and adventurous willing to dare the difference. The practice flew and flew high, like Jonathan Livingston Seagull. It was no longer a dream. Large span structures multi-storied printing factory, Geodesic exhibition structures - the BUBE, Taj Fisherman's Cove, the Cochin Hyperbolic Paraboloid Stadium, the Holy Cross Brothers and their highly challenging sports center and many homes and institutions. The Media caught on and life was never the same again.
One day in 1975, a challenge came as a short consultancy in Muscat, Oman, through a Professor at IIT Madras. Took the challenge and one fine day, I took off, only to land in a desert sprinkled with a few Oasis. How a week's consultancy became a Four year stint! These four and odd years, like the desert, pushed me into new ventures, in addition to architectural consultancy. I learnt to run a crusher, a fabrication unit, a construction firm, a trading firm – well it opened my spectrum so wide that I, in a way, mastered the elements of construction as it is on site. Architecturally the challenges were limited – the western influences crushed the local ethos mercilessly and I could, in a way, no longer take it.
Omar Khayyam never happened!
1980 put all our savings into the design- built ANTHEM, our home in Bangalore. ANTHEM was a revelation in its design and construction. From its single vertical stone foundation, to the four sloped catenary roof to the wind catchers and sundial double skin breathing windows, it became the cynosure of all students of architecture all over the country. My dream to retire became a dream. The storm struck, and here I am driven by forces beyond and the magic of adventure to accept challenges and change the built environment and influence the way one looked and experienced space. Learning and Sharing became a passion, especially with the eager hungry youth. Time and Space played and danced. Music froze.
In 1990 Jaisim-Fountainhead shifted to the city core, finally settled in its present domain. The office semi - underground, an Eco thermal space and with our residence floating above, with an interactive landscape in between.
Homes, Health care centers, Information Technology spaces, Social Clubs, Institutions, Research centers, Resorts, residential layouts, exciting projects flowed in and were executed with patience and charm. An assorted continuum of spaces like opulent beads, that challenged and evoked responses beyond the ordinary, were objectively achieved with daring new concepts.
Today (2016), the mind wants to run and challenge, but the body smiles and rests. Omar Khayyam is at hand, must respect that space, the time has come. And Life opens to new adventures in the built environment, from physical buildings to poetic transformation to NOW- the philosophical renderings! The Spirit of youth sustains.