An Obituary: 'Mud Architecture' Pioneer Revathi Kamath Passed Away At 65
Updated: Feb 16, 2021
Revathi Sekhar Kamath, an environmentally sensitive architect from New Delhi passed away on July 21, 2020, at the age of 65. She was perhaps one of the most successful architects that India has produced in the contemporary era, who focused to give a newer dimension to ‘Mud Architecture’.She is also credited with designing the tallest stainless steel structure (a 33-metre high gateway) in India for super thermal power plant at Raigarh, Chhattisgarh.
She was the co-founder of New Delhi based Architecture, Planning, and Environment focused consultancy firm Kamath Design Studio. Earlier, in September 2019, her partner and co-founder, Vasant Kamath had left for heavenly abode. Kamath Design Studio studio produces work informed by an explicitly environmental agenda. The work creatively synthesizes attitudes and technologies into an aesthetic habitat and way of life. The studio is now under the aegis of their son, Ayodh Kamath.
She was born in Bhubaneswar, Orissa (currently known as Odisha, since 2011) in the year 1955. She obtained her Bachelor's degree in Architecture in 1977 and a post-graduate program in Urban and Regional Planning in 1981 both from the School of Planning and Architecture, Delhi. After that, she worked with Joseph Allen Stein, B. V Doshi and Dr. J . R Bhalla (SDB Consultants) for a year and later with Rassik International, Architects and furniture designers in New Delhi. In 1979, she started work with The GRUP (Group for Rural & Urban Planning), a partnership firm between Vasant Kamath, Romi Khosla and Narendra Dengle. Finally, in 1981 She had set up the firm of ‘Revathi and Vasant Kamath’, Architects, Delhi, with her husband Vasant. The firm has subsequently become ‘Kamath Design Studio’, (2005 onwards) with their son Ayodh joining the firm. She has also worked for the National Institute of Urban Affairs in 1981. She was visiting Faculty from 1984 to 1987 and Assistant Professor from 1987 to 1991 at the School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi.
Some of her notable works include: Desert Resort in Mandawa - Rajasthan, Mud house for Nandita and Amit Judge from Delhi, Lakshman Sagar Resort, Raipur Jeevashram Animal Shelter; Delhi, Akshay Pratishthan School; Delhi, School for weavers’ children at Maheshwar; Madhya Pradesh, Tomar House, Hauz Khas; New Delhi, Auditorium at Raigarh, Chhattisgarh and Tal Chhapar Sanctuary for Government of Rajasthan, Churu, Rajasthan and Gnostic Centre, New Delhi.
Her philosophy relates to Architectural consciousness being holistic and contemplating human culture and civilization through time and in space. According to Revathi, the practice of architecture always enables an individual to be hydra-headed, and evolve a multitude of interests and skills. She strongly feels that the, contradictory attributes can blend seamlessly into a complex whole of the spiritual and material, meditative and expressive, subjective and rational, technical and artistic and the poetic understanding.
Prof. Nalini Thakur’s message for her friend reads as, “Revathi was an old friend and a great human being. She was a talented designer even in her student days. I was familiar with her Bhuli Bhatiari project (Near Shadipur Depot, Delhi), her housing for the street performers. Her way of understanding and design was fascinating and original. She had this uncanny way of handling very small and narrow spaces, not everyone can do that. I could very well recognize Revathi and Vasant’s designs. They were distinct people, but their work complemented each other because of their diverse strengths. We have lost a great woman professional. She will be missed.”
To dive more into her journey and work, one may watch a documentary called Dhara (1999) with Revathi Kamath by Doordarshan Channel, India.
Head Image: Akshay Pratishthan School; Delhi. Image © archnet.org
Other Images © As mentioned.