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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Soul Searching


Ezine Special


By Savitha Hira
Photography: Courtesy the architect


A walk down memory lane with Ar. Jaisim, revisiting his formative years, his milestones and the lives and beliefs that have touched his growing years, introduces us to the profound thinker behind the bemused visage. As he fondly pays homage to a host of mentors, Ar. Jaisim unravels infinitesimal nuggets of wisdom…

“I have been addressed in many ways; radical being the simplest,” laughs Ar. Jaisim, his eyes twinkling as he amiably continues… “Mad, iconic, crazy, no way, impossible, adventurous, arrogant, stupid, imaginative, daring, impetuous… Well, I can only smile and reflect with a built response.”

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With an illustrious maternal grandfather, the Late Shri. S.H. Lakshminarasappa, who was the Palace architect in the erstwhile Mysore Maharajah's reign from late 1890s to about 1940s, Jaisim’s earliest influence, was that of his mother’s. She was instrumental in his joining architecture school.  

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Jaisim thus embarked on a long sojourn of imbibing various and varied nuances that went on to mark his success. It was from Prof. K.N. Iyengar that he learnt the importance of a meticulous approach-to-detail with relevance to history; while an accidental meet with Prof. Otto Koingsberger, Head of Tropical Studies, London, influenced the way he continues to design with context.

Ayn Rand’s Fountainhead has wielded a potent influence on a multitude, and Jaisim was no different. His read of the book sowed the seeds of introspection and had so profound an effect on his psyche that he named his company ‘Fountainhead’. Till date, it continues to be the backbone of the philosophy of his practice.

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His learnings are from various people, who he ascribes to for his inspiration; considers his mentors, even his friends. Reminiscing about his humble beginnings, Jaisim pays homage to Mr. Pakeer Mohamed Mydeen, M.P. of Mydeen and CO, tobacco merchants, who led him by his hand, became his first client and gave him the freedom to express with a no-holds-barred attitude. “This was my Alice in Wonderland experience,” he says reverently.

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Ecologically and empirically, Jaisim connects with the built form as he would conduct a dialogue with his immediate surrounds. In fact, browsing through his projects, many a time, one feels that the space is a result of an intimate interaction with its architect; so familiar that it sublimely relates to the inherent needs of its inhabitants. Such profundity is layered in his work, in his numerous writings, his speeches and presentations, to an extent in his silhouette.

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Jaisim’s four year tenure with Ar. Sri Krishna Chitale of L M Chitale & Son, soon after he graduated, taught him significant tenets of a professional and ethical approach; the importance of site and understanding of structure and material in detail; he also learnt how to understand his client. His first partner, structural engineer and consultant, Mr. P. S. Sivasubramaniam further consolidated his concept of structures and their integration with the built spaces. A facet that was further enhanced with a chance working opportunity with Ar. Geoffrey Bawa, and Jaisim began to experience a new high, recognizing organic stimulations. His travels, far and wide and his continual interactions with students of architecture, opened up the spheres of his vision; he could now see, feel, touch, learn and respond with expressions more intense, more mature than before.

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The man, the architect, got stronger in his convictions; could challenge the best in the world. And in this voyage of discovering himself and finding his watershed, his wife and daughter stand by him, staunchly supporting the fragility that lay encased behind a continuum of strong beliefs and uncompromising practice.

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A simple arrogance, pride in oneself and one’s creative achievement defines his USP. “Architecture is a unique profession if practiced to its depths and demands the courage of conviction to continue to believe in what one does, this need fueling constantly,” he concludes. “It is a selfish approach to optimize the entire spectrum while one continuously dares to journey and climb the peaks, to seek new valleys of surprise and intrigue.”

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Garner more insights from Ar. K.R. Jaisim on:


2 comments:

  1. Thank you, Savitha Hira! It has been quite lovely to see how you have put together and created a coherent thread of events, projects and philosophy for one of the most remarkable people of our time! Quite a tribute.

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  2. He is a synonym for Architecture. He is the one who titillated the Indian architecture most. -Basavaraju DS

    ReplyDelete

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