Issue 19 & 20 - Pages 130-131

Maharshi Karve Memorial
NarendraDengle & Associates

Narendra Dengle: "Founder Partner: The GRUP '74-'87, Resident Director SEMAC(1) pvt. ltd, Sultanate of Oman, '83-'87, Principal Architect Narendra Dengle and Associates, is a practicing architect, conservationist, and academic. His work include housing, museums, software offices, temples, colleges and institutional campuses, hospitals etc, addressing contemporary cultural, contextual and urban issues. His works and essays on architecture, art culture and aesthetics have featured in a number of Indian and international journals on architecture and urbanism. His book 'Jharoka' (Marathi) on critical issues in architecture, urbanism, and interpretation of heritage was published in 2008.

He has taught at the SPA New Delhi, and was the Chair of Design at the KRVIA, Mumbai from 2006-2011. Presently he is the Academic Chair in Goa College of Architecture. He has been a member of the Urban Heritage Committee of Pune, and Mahabaleshwar- Panchgani, since inception, and past co-convenor of INTACH Pune. He is also the members of advisory committee on Architectural Heritage on INTACH, New Delhi. His has made films on Architectural Appreciation in Marathi and English."


We believe in evolving contextual solutions that address local as well as global issues of culture, history, ecology, environment and togetherness of societies with a sense of freedom of consciousness. No civilization or culture is static; hence neither architecture nor the field of its reference can be termed static. The dialectic between the practice and experience of the world, events and intuition leads to defining the dynamics of architecture from time to time.

Architecture takes place in six categories of ecologically oriented, peoples', need based, religion related, saleable, and art. Architectural expression varies in decoding these categories in a given time and space. Our work try and address the trinity of traditions in architecture made of philosophical, visual and craft-traditions.
As the only experiential art, architecture demands wanderings in a space. This joy of wandering leads to appreciating and comprehending space in any place and societies.

Our work makes an attempt to decode the enigmatic relationship of the personal and the universal.

Maharshi (sage) Karve, who lived for more than hundred years, was a social reformer, and pioneer in women’s education and emancipation in India. He was born in 1858, married a widow and through tireless and selfless work established the first women’s university in 1916. Today, the institutions that he gave his life tocontinue to inspire women and men, in the social and cultural values that Karve imbibed in his students.

We were asked to first design his Samadhi at the place where Karve and his wife were cremated. The institute,which had looked after his personal belongings and memorabilia, in one of the buildings on the campus later decided to enshrine these into a new memorialmuseum, and asked us to design the building close to the Samadhi earlier designed by us.
Sustainability has become a big word today, but if one looks at the life style and values of people like Karve one would realize that teaching and living were merely two aspects of the same philosophy of life for them rarely contradicting each other in spirit or manifestation. Pune of this period was at the front of the social and political activities in India with the most important non- profit organizations in the field of education, politics & economics, and social work, whose symbol was Karve, for us, so far as the design of his Samadhi and memorial were concerned.This together with Karve’s simple life style, honesty and integrity, and his sense of economy formed the intangible brief for the project for us.

The samadhi, which is a humble pavilion in garden, built in the local stone and Mangalore tile roof was meant to evoke the atmosphere of the hut on the campus where Karve lived. The entrance to the Samadhi is deliberately located centrally and in between the two samadhis of Karve and his wife. The details of the structure are meant to evoke the atmosphere of local temple pavilions or sabhamandapas.

Architectural Design, Interior Design, Illumination, & landscape Design : Narendra Dengle

Graphic design: Design at Works, Pune

Design team: Narendra Dengle, Bela Dave Deshpande, Navendu Rode, Minal Sagare, Shekhar Garud

Structural Design: Vijay Ruikar ( Samadhi), Vishnu Joshi ( Memorial Museum ) in association with Girish Deshmukh

Civil Contractors: Bhate Raje Associates (Samadhi), Kale & Sons (Memorial Museum)

Construction cost: $ 138000

Year of Completion: Samadhi 2003, Memorial Museum 2006

The memorial museum is conceived around a circular open to sky court. The three wings of the museum spinning off from the centre of the circle are symbolic of the prakriti or the feminine energy. The small scale structure which is offset by a leaning staircase tower are indicative of the shy personality of Karve, whose achievements were ahead of his time earning him the highest of civilian honors in the country-the Bharat-Ratna. The architecture of the memorial museum uses the local Deccan trap stone and exposed concrete and attempt to play with natural light and ventilation that highlight the display. The stone walls have been provided with low level holes that admit cool breeze into the interior which is exhausted through high towers which also admit bounced natural light down the shaft into the display area. The roof along with the central court have been designed as the amphitheatre where song and light shows may be held; in the process they continue with the theme of Karve’s sense of economy- to create architectural form. All but for two existing trees were retained at the site that provide a cool shade for the amphitheater.