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Design in Context

Indrajit Kembhavi, Managing Partner, & Nita Kembhavi, Principal Architect, Kembhavi Architecture Foundation.
“KAF’s mission is to create architecture which is very responsive, and leaves a mark visually or experientially. This approach has been drawing customers from different parts of the world”, say Indrajit Kembhavi, Managing Partner, & Nita Kembhavi, Principal Architect, Kembhavi Architecture Foundation.

The world is a dynamic place, with people and their lifestyles constantly evolving and adapting. Making spaces appropriate and contextual to current needs while building in fluidity to enable change is at the crux of design innovation by the architectural firm Kembhavi Architecture Foundation.

“Once the life-cycle of a space has reduced, KAF does not advocate destroying a completely built space to change its use. We keep a space fluid so that it evolves from one use to the other”, Indrajit Kembhavi, Managing Partner, tells Aditya Mendonca.  These incorporated changes in use of space needn’t always be complete overhauls from residential to commercial, and are adaptable to changes in the lifestyles of the occupants. “We have to have a space which is evolving, while ensuring that it is contextual in its current time frame”, he says.

KAF design
Designing for the evolution of a space is the innovative principle of KAF.

Founded by Nalini and Sharad Kembhavi in Hubballi, KAF has a strong operations base in Bengaluru. The couple’s sons Indrajit and Partha Kembhavi, and their spouses Nita and Soumya are principal architects in the firm, with distinct strengths. The firm’s design scope is eclectic and ranges from individual houses to large townships and malls, to new age spaces for companies in technology, healthcare and hospitality. “Our palette is extensive. We work on projects for the government too, and we are probably the only firm in the country who have designed a prison, the district prison in Bagalkot, Karnataka”,  says Nita Kembhavi.

Irrespective of the size of a building, be it a single home or 100 acre campus, KAF delivers a design in three weeks.While the buzz word in architecture is  smart homes, Kembhavi says that “simplicity and effectiveness” is all that it takes, and the firm has long has been incorporating simple management tools at the design stage to enable such smart homes.

People tend to use a lot of technology, but technology has to be part of a whole, he says, citing the example of advanced curtain management systems that are light or temperature sensitive. This technology add on would be farcical if the basic design of the window is flawed. The essence of a good building lies in the initial design which would enable good windows to start with.

Referring to the to the focus on luxury living, Kembhavi states that “luxury lies not in marble flooring or automation, but in design.” Kembhavi creates a “luxurious aura through design”, and does not confuse between transient style, and ethereal design; thus, it tailors a custom design for the purpose of the project which is blended to incorporate the site and its requirements.

KAF is a pioneer of solar passive architecture in India. lake_aerial
KAF is a pioneer of solar passive architecture in India. lake_aerial

An early and significant innovation by KAF has been in the practice of solar passive architecture, which it pioneered in India. Explaining the concept, Kembhavi says that firm does not just perform lip-service to the often-misused concept of making the properties ‘green.’ KAF’s commitment goes beyond superficial inclusions to incorporate all the elements of nature as energy tools to make a building efficient and sustainable in terms of climate, air quality, breathability, ideal utilisation of space, light, and simply the overall aura. This wholesome concept was woven into the genetics as well as circadian aspects of the firm by Nalini Kembhavi, who studied solar passive architecture at IIT – Powai.

Best Iconic Tower of 2018 winner for Landmark Vertica
Best Iconic Tower of 2018 winner for Landmark Vertica

In its pursuit of implementing best practices, KAF has won several awards, including:

  • ‘Architect of the year, South India’ at the Indian Properties Awards 2015
  • ‘Outstanding Concrete Structure for townships for designing the Provident Welworth City for Puravankara Ltd, 2015
  • Silicon, India Bangalore Real Estate Awards 2016 for ‘Best Design Apartment of the Year – South for Manikchand 117ff Super Luxury Apartment’
  • Best Architect for Real Estate Design, 2016, Manikchand-117FF by RRBC

Keeping up the disruptive milieu, Kembhavi has also joined the innovation ecosystem as an investor in the architectural start up Snap drew, which is focused on a BIM (Building Information Modelling) visualisation tool.