Kamu Iyer, one of the last known modernist masterminds from India that witnessed Mumbai’s architectural changes. Iyer is also known for his book: ‘Boombay: From Precincts to Sprawl’, documenting the outlines of the value of Mumbai’s urban development since the 1940s to this day, considering his extensive projects all around India. Since the mid-20th century, In practice, Kamu Iyer co-founded Architects’ Combine, which continues with a new generation to this day, working on various types of projects: extending from a range of residential buildings, educational, offices, industrial and interior projects. 

Here are some projects by Kamu Iyer:  

1. RAMESH SHAH 

Year: 1963
Location: AHMEDABAD, GUJARAT
Type of project: Private House 

This project is solely placed on the land of Ahmedabad, of which it allows complete freedom in the style and approach. Iyer approached this private house project with a semi-plan-libre, arranged as a cube of 2 levels, with its rooms organized freely. The honeycomb white brick façade of the Ramesh Shah project shows similarities to Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye (1929), having columns part of the façade, serving spatial and structural purposes. Considering built sustainable solutions, Iyer oriented the house to an angle, decreasing the amount of direct exposure of sunlight to the elongated walls, whilst placing a veranda facing the southeast, enjoying cooled wind breeze and views of the landscape and the next building being yards away.

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Ramesh Shah ©architectscombine.in
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Ramesh Shah ©architectscombine.in
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Ramesh Shah ©architectscombine.in

2. GKR FOUNDATION STAFF HOUSING APARTMENTS

Year: 2005
Location: GUDALUR, TAMIL NADU
Type of project: Apartments  

This project consists of 15 apartments over an area of the site of 90 sqm. The apartment units being placed in the form of an L shape creating a semi-courtyard functioning as a play area, designed having windows to overlook the space. The simple brick building’s design offers cross ventilation considering the site’s climate and its demand. Iyer designed the building with a mixture of materials in its material palette: brick, aluminium and ceramic tiles, all of which are equal to a city’s apartment standards 

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GKR foundation staff housing ©architectscombine.in
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GKR foundation staff housing ©architectscombine.in
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GKR foundation staff housing ©architectscombine.in

3. CIDCO LOW INCOME GROUP HOUSING

Year: 1991
Location: VASHI, NAVI MUMBAI, MAHARASHTRA
Type of project: Housing

The CIDCO project is a housing project composed of 3 distinct dwelling units for the low-income class in Vashi. The units are designed in a cluster form without differentiating between the groups of people: all the units are 2-storey built with a consistent brick façade, all of which are made of load-bearing walls with floor and roof slabs. Iyer’s experience in Bombay made a significant understanding of the adjustment of the limited area of housing units, offering a sufficient amount of sunlight and cross ventilation.

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CIDCO low income group housing ©architectscombine.in
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CIDCO low income group housing ©architectscombine.in
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CIDCO low income group housing ©architectscombine.in

4. SIES CAMPUS 

Year: 2002-2006
Location: NERUL, NAVI MUMBAI, MAHARASHTRA
Type of project: institutional  

This institutional project has witnessed development from 1995 to 2006, with Architect’s Combine and Kamu Iyer being behind this building. On-site of the main road in Nerul, the programme of the school adjusted new spaces within the existing form, which later is designed by Iyer to follow the function of the programme. The concrete 3-story building provides an adequate amount of sunlight and cross-ventilation, creating an interactive area of the space. The school was designed with materials such as aluminium, concrete, ceramic tiles and glass. Some of the façade faces have more windows than the other serving the purpose of the room, the orientation of the school with the sun path. 

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SIES campus ©architectscombine.in
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SIES campus ©architectscombine.in
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SIES campus ©architectscombine.in

5. USHA KIRAN CHARITABLE EYE HOSPITAL 

Year: 2002-2005
Location: MYSORE, KARNATAKA
Type of project: health center   

This project is located on a small site in Mysore, this specialist health center was built with 4 stories and a basement. Considering the tight and limited plan, the spiral staircase happens to be a dominant feature of this hospital. The project was built with concrete and ceramic tiles over the interior walls, all of which are the 2 colors white and blue, serving the calmness and soothe-ness of both colors to the eye considering its programme.

USHA KIRAN CHARITABLE EYE HOSPITAL - Sheet1
Usha Kiran ©architectscombine.in
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Usha Kiran ©architectscombine.in
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Usha Kiran ©architectscombine.in

6. MMRDA OFFICE BUILDING 

Year: 1986-1988
Location: MUMBAI, MAHARASHTRA
Type of project: office

This project is a governmental office building, with its site being located in Mumbai. This office building is a 9-story level, and unlike modern office buildings, the MMRDA had a higher ratio of concrete to glass. Iyer had a vision of designing this governmental building with more privacy, hence the inward levels and angled windows only at the top 6 levels of the building, creating more privacy to what is happening inside from the general public, whilst still allowing natural sunlight in. Such an approach created a honeycomb-like design at the corner of the angle of the building giving its design more umph.

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MMRDA office ©architectscombine.in
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MMRDA office ©architectscombine.in

7. RAJPUTANA CLUB, CAMA RESORT

Year: 1986-1995
Location: MOUNT ABU, RAJASTHAN
Type of project: hotel

This project initially existed more than a hundred years ago, located on around a 28,000sqm site in Mount Abu. Iyer and the Architect’s Combine team worked on restoring this resort club, creating a new programme for it and how it functions whilst it retains its heritage character. The resort was designed to accommodate 42 rooms for the resort inhibitors and for more privacy, single 2-storey houses of total 4 bedrooms around the residential resort. The materials that were used for this development are raw highlighting its heritage; a mixture of stone, concrete and Mangalore tiles. Both the clubhouse and the single house illustrate similarities in the scale and materiality unifying the complex project.

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Rajputana Club ©architectscombine.in
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Rajputana Club ©architectscombine.in
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Rajputana Club ©architectscombine.in

8. BOMBAY BURMAH TRADING CO. HEAD OFFICE 

Year: 1997- 1998
Location: MUMBAI, MAHARASHTRA
Type of project: interior 

This is one of the 7 projects Iyer and Architect’s Combine worked on. Located in Mumbai, this trading center has a mixture of interior styles serving the use of space. The dominant space of the building is the circular space accommodating open cubicle offices, creating an interactive space. Although the building receives a significant amount of sunlight, it was designed to have a great amount of artificial lighting in the shape of a star, maintaining the same amount of lighting in the offices even after sunset. Another interior style that was introduced to this project shows the essence of the renaissance, the high arched roof, the colored ornamental glass changes the atmospheres of the rooms.

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Bombay Burmah Trading Co. ©architectscombine.in
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Bombay Burmah Trading Co. ©architectscombine.in
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Bombay Burmah Trading Co. ©architectscombine.in

9. SR AYER 

Year: 1983
Location: CHENNAI, TAMIL NADU
Type of project: private house 

Designed by Iyer, this private house project was built across the seashore in Chennai. The simple square plan shows the divisions of the rooms, with maximum circulation without losing space. However, the complexity of this project’s design lays on the angled roof profile, in consideration of the sun path, of which its hollowness maintains the coolness of the interior. The building shows a significant amount of windows on each face of the façade allowing cross ventilation to occur, such a location allows sea breeze in.

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SR Ayer ©architectscombine.in
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SR Ayer ©architectscombine.in
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SR Ayer ©architectscombine.in

10. W G FORGE & ALLIED INDUSTRIES STAFF HOUSING 

Year: 1974
Location: KUDAL, KARNATAKA
Type of project: housing 

This staff housing project is located in Kudal, around a greenery landscape and a plantation building. The plans of those houses are generic and clustered around an open central area of greenery. The materials of those housings are raw and local made of concrete, stones and tiles for a central sloped roof just like the local vernacular, adapting to the climate of Karnataka and its heavy rainfall. Each of these 2 story houses has its own private courtyard that looks over the central space, designed to make the monitoring process easier on the staff.

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Staff Housing ©architectscombine.in
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Staff Housing ©architectscombine.in
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Staff Housing ©architectscombine.in

11. BRUNTON MANOR 

Year: 1982
Location: BENGALURU, KARNATAKA
Type of project: apartments  

This 3-story apartment project consists of 7 main units with private courtyards. Each apartment has a simple distribution to the 3 bedrooms, kitchen and washrooms, private gardens for each unit in the ground floor and private terraces on the upper floors. The white concrete façade shows an extraction of a simple square wrapped with different window shapes creating an interactive building, yet maintains privacy to the residents.

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Brunton Manor ©architectscombine.in
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Brunton Manor ©architectscombine.in
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Brunton Manor ©architectscombine.in

12. UM (DEPT. OF ATOMIC ENERGY) – CENTRE FOR EXCELLENCE 

Year: 2009
Location: KALINA, MUMBAI, MAHARASHTRA
Type of project: institutional   

This is one of the recent projects that Kamu Iyer and his architectural practice worked on: The Centre for Excellence located in Mumbai. This institutional project was approached differently than the previous projects considering the advancement of technology. Built with a mixture of concrete, red bricks for the columns, aluminium and glass. The windows of this project were designed either at a set-back by the brick columns or with an angle, creating more privacy to the center, yet allowing a sufficient amount of sunlight. A mixture of curves and angles is prominent in the main façade making it a dominant feature.

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Centre for Excellence ©architectscombine.in
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Centre for Excellence ©architectscombine.in
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Centre for Excellence ©architectscombine.in

13. ALEXCON

Year: 1989
Location: RAIGAD, MAHARASHTRA
Type of project: industrial    

This industrial project takes over by Iyer and Architects Combine, located in Raigad around a greenery landscape. Alexcon consists of various concrete volumes in the form of blocks, serving a brutalist style as the façade shows the naked concrete. The main spacious working area has windows surrounding all over the walls of the shortest volume. Moving to the longer volume which has the circulation area, the windows are thinner and longer. The usage of materials: bare concrete, allows maintaining the temperature inside the building, considering the properties of a concrete.

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Alexcon ©architectscombine.in
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Alexcon ©architectscombine.in
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Alexcon ©architectscombine.in

14. SANDUR LAMINATES

Year: 1996
Location: SANDUR, KARNATAKA
Type of project: industrial   

This is another industrial project made by Iyer and his team, the development is spaciously located solely around the green landscape of Sandur, Karnataka. The building consists of several volumes and a mixture of square and circle shapes, that are present in the façade of the building. The circular volume suggests a spiral staircase for circulation in the building, with the widest window frames being punched into the dusty orange façade similar to Louis Kahn’s work, as each volume has a different window size, serving its purpose. The shortest volume has its windows from the ceiling allowing a sufficient amount of light into the industrial space, whilst having more privacy. 

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Sandur Laminates ©architectscombine.in
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Sandur Laminates ©architectscombine.in
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Sandur Laminates ©architectscombine.in

15. NATIONAL STANDARD DUNCAN (NSD) HOSKOTE

Year: 1983
Location: KOLKATA, WEST BENGAL
Type of project: industrial    

Designed by Iyer and his team, this is another project that falls under the industry type, located in West Bengal. This project unlike any other industrial projects, its main feature is its transparency as the window to concrete ratio is higher. This 2-story double height building was designed to have large windows that wrap the building, not dividing between the pedestrian and the worker while allowing sunlight into the working space. With maximum space efficiency, for circulation the staircase was built outside leading to the first floor that has an aluminium roof, hence controlling the temperature in this project is less likely. 

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NSD Hoskote ©architectscombine.in
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NSD Hoskote ©architectscombine.in
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NSD Hoskote ©architectscombine.in
Author

An Architecture BA graduate that aims to leave her mark by offering her skill-set and knowledge of architecture to the rest of the world, BaheyaSarhan is strongly passionate about sustainable designs and model making. She is currently interning at an architectural practice based in Bahrain.

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