Prof. K.Jaisim, Jaisim-Fountainhead

Prof K Jaisim

"Every built space can sing poetry, only one has to appropriately feel the blend that nature and materials offer."Prof. K. Jaisim

The terms Architecture and Design were never new to Prof. K.Jaisim: they run in his blood. S H Lakshminarsappa, his grandfather, was a Palace Architect to the Mysore Kings until the 1940s. Although he had never actually considered a career in architecture, the lure of a Triumph Tiger Cub motorcycle promised by his father proved too much and drew him to study at the Madras School of Architecture where he enrolled in 1960. After completing his graduation in architecture in 1966 from Madras University, he worked with the architectural firm of LM Chitale & Son in Madras from 1966 to 1970.

At this time, heavily influenced by Ayn Rand's novel, 'The Fountainhead,' and encouraged by his Design Professor, Sheila Tribe, at The School of Architecture (Madras) and inspired by architectural greats such as Mies van der Rohe, Buckminster Fuller, Otto Koenigsberger, Geoffrey Bawa, and Architect Srikrishna Chitale, Prof Jaisim started an architectural practice under the name "Jaisim-Fountainhead" as a wandering, restless search for meaning in the world of architecture.

Palace Architect
Prof Jaisim, at the forefront of this journey in the built environment, was anchored by a few well meaning entrepreneurs, who recognized in this Maverick, the potential to realize a new expression in architecture. From the Mydeen Tobacco offices and madarasas in Kumbokonam, to large printing factories for Dinathandi in Madras, to The TAJ Fisherman's Cove - a prestigious foreshore hotel near Mahabalipuram, to holiday homes in Yercaud and absolutely challenging homes and institutions in the South of India, the forward-thinking, mould-breaking creative force became unstoppable.

In 1975, he took his adventure overseas to Muscat, Oman and worked in the Gulf for a period of four years; a time he used to search inwards. Subsequently he decided to go back to Jaisim-Fountainhead and break boundaries of architectural space in time by returning to the sub-continent and back to Bangalore, the idyllic home town of his ancestors.

The journey that began fifty years ago was inspired by the writing and philosophy of the celebrated author Ayn Rand in her book, 'THE FOUNTAINHEAD' gifted by his brother Dr. K. Ramchand. In the reading of this work, Prof. Jaisim says, "The pages rolled, letters, words and sentences became epics, every page, a Bible, a Quran and a Bhagvat Gita. Howard Roark lived in the novel, Jaisim lived the philosophy in Life. The Dos and Don'ts became evident. Clients had to walk in, they were never sought after. It was and still continues to be a tough journey. Disappointments galore but one spark here and there, and Life and Architecture come alive with meaning and purpose. The senses awake, the elements dance.

NATURE rejoiced. Architecture became. Passion and objectivity subjected to Human values - the SPIRIT of Man played with Time and Space."

Rainwater Harvesting
Prof Jaisim's designs are a result of his farsighted views on nature-friendly features and advocacy of cost-effective & energy-efficient approaches. His focus on sustainability in architecture allowed him to use rainwater harvesting and cost-effective and energy-efficient approaches in construction long before they became mandatory; and these along with innovation in design, light and ventilation became his first home in Bangalore — 'Anthem'. According to him, "materials and natural elements in construction are akin to letters in a language."

Talking about his work, he says, "All my projects are a continuum. The past belongs to the future and they both make the present. No single project can stand alone, as architecture is a totality of integrity, it is holistic, and a way of LIFE. Some projects get published, some win awards, some get talked about, a few have hundreds of visitors, a few diamonds lie quietly not wanting to be discovered or disturbed. It is amazing: very often I stop and wonder at a building only to later find I had done it - a smile comes on the face. The eyes water, a few are brought down by building booms and real estate costs, but death is inevitable. New energies must be given new space."

Reminiscing about a recent visit to one of his erstwhile projects he says, "Every time I walk around and mumble to these spaces, when I wander them alone, experiencing new expressions and new play of light, sound and touch, all my senses come alive. I touch these walls, and peep through the voids to see the play of solids and shadows... WOW! I wish time would freeze and still let space flow."

According to him, "there is no secret or Mantra of a successful life except the human spirit."

He says, "ARCHITECTURE is beyond function and form. I love to interact with young spirits all over, exchange and learn. What I have learnt is there for all who value it to explore and express. As the practice of architecture is very individualistic, it integrates a myriad professions and dynamics - from art to technology, from permanence to continuous change. So I often wonder - what next? What do I wish to do? Every day I take up a new challenge. I love undertaking new projects which have never been done or instantiated before."

Prof. Jaisim has received a number of awards and recognitions including the most recent NDTV Architecture and Design Lifetime Achievement Award 2014, besides the prestigious Chairman's Award by JK Cements (2012).

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