My Books

From Diagram to Design

This book contains projects of architecture done over a span of many years. It is not just a catalogue of finished buildings but a recount of the journey of each project, from enquiring into its true nature and searching for the essence of its programme to its logical conclusion. A programme for a work of architecture is more than a mere set of physical requirements. It evolves from observing and discussing, listening and recalling experiences, abstract notions or visual ideas that are stored in the mind.

Over the years I found that some projects had similarities in their core ideas. These could be grouped under themes, expressed as ideograms which, essentially, are abstract ideas with no specific form or order. A thematic ideogram is not a ‘priori’ for a design. Being abstract in nature it can be adapted across different types and scales of buildings, public spaces or assemblages. This can be seen in the variety and scales of the projects illustrated in the book.

From Diagram to Design presents a way of thinking in which thoughts and ideas are processed verbally and visually and expressed diagrammatically in sketches or ideograms representing core ideas of an individual design. These are then elaborated into workable solutions that in this book are expressed through narratives, conceptual sketches, plans and photographs of the finished building. With over 525 photographs, drawings and sketches this book, published by The CEPT University Press was first released on 17th September 2020. For copies please contact the CEPT University Press or our office architects’ combine. This book is also available on amazon.

Boombay From Precincts to Sprawl

In this book I write about the built form of the city as I have seen it grow and change since the 1940s. It is written largely from my experience through my years as a student, professional architect and teacher in schools of architecture, though I have also drawn from the observations of many others, young and old. I also look at the way in which the Improvement Trust, the Bombay Development Department and the Bombay Municipal Corporation, through their interventions, altered the homes and lives of people over the decades. This book is about a changing order and the city’s fabric. It was first published in 2014. For copies, please contact our office, architects’ combine. This book is also available on amazon.

Build a Safe House with Confined Masonry

A study discussing prevailing practices, observations and possible interventions in the rural context of earthquake-prone regions in Gujarat. This study was undertaken for the Gujarat State Disaster Management Authority (GSDMA), Government of Gujarat. The team for this study included Shibani Kulkarni and Shantanu Subramaniam from architects’ combine, Mumbai and C.V.R. Murty, Rupen Goswami and A.R. Vijayanarayanan from IIT, Madras.

Preamble: Most houses in rural India are masonry houses. The masonry walls are built with burnt clay brick or natural stone masonry. Many choices are made across India for the roof. For instance, a sloping roof with wood truss and burnt clay tile is adopted in Kutch region of Gujarat (western state of India), and a flat roof with reinforced concrete (RC) slab in Tehri Region of Uttarakhand (northern state of India). These houses are constructed in the conventional manner known to masons. Technically, they are called Un-reinforced Masonry (URM) Houses; they have plain masonry walls with no steel reinforcement embedded in them to improve their behaviour during earthquakes. Today, of the existing building stock in India, about 45% of houses are made of burnt clay brick and about 10% of natural stone. Thus, over half of India’s population lives in URM houses. This can be downloaded on the IIT Website.

4 From the 50s – Emerging Modern Architecture in Bombay

Some things are worth keeping even if they do not have a patina acquired with age. Our tendency to put things in historical slots result in vintage being valued more than critical quality. Unfortunately, while we readily lobby for the protection of our older buildings, we do not look at what actually is the founding of our present identity. The architectural heritage of the Modern Movement is today at risk due to change in function or technology or cultural climate. There is, therefore, immediate need for identifying, listing and documenting the buildings of 20th century which are worthy of being conserved. It is also necessary to promote a greater understanding of the ideas behind them.The buildings up to the first decade of 20th century are well protected through listing and other mechanisms and awareness is being created about the importance of these buildings. However, the period from the 1920s to the present needs articulation and debate about the relevance and the need for protection as otherwise the bulk of this could be lost without even a cursory look or discussion. Looking at architecture of 20th century could help the present conservation effort to evolve the rationale for what, why and how we list and protect the built environment. The 20th century Architecture Society in India initiated identifying, documenting and raising awareness of 20th century architecture in India and South Asia. The society has identified a preliminary list of 20th century heritage building in Mumbai and these have been documented with relevant information about them. It has also documented four significant examples of post-independence modern architecture in Mumbai that are detailed in this monograph. These were built in 1950s and showed a distinct a departure from the ideas prevailing then. Published by the Urban Design Research institute 20th Century Architecture Society of India (20CASI).

Buildings That Shaped Bombay -Works of G.B. Mhatre

Bombay of all cities in India is unique. It was built by the British as a commercial centre and migrants who came to live in it gave the city its singularly cosmopolitan character.

Unlike other Indian cities, Bombay’s growth was through a series of planning initiatives of which ‘planned precincts’ by the City Improvement Trust, was most significant. In these, building form and design were regulated. One of the most important shapers of the built environment then was G.B. Mhatre, a sensitive and gifted architect.

This book is about Mhatre’s work and the role he played in the context of a critical period in the architectural history of Bombay. It traces the development of his architecture from traditional beginnings through the Art Deco period to the modern.

Some of the important buildings designed by him in Bombay are illustrated with drawings and photos, as also some of his unrealised projects. With essays by Anant Raje and Mustansir Dalvi, it was first published in 2000 by Kamla Raheja Vidyanidhi Institute of Architecture & Environmental sciences. For copies please contact our office, architects’ combine or the KRVIA library.