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Centre for Vernacular Architecture Trust



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Vernacular Values

Threading cross-section journeys into the other paradigm in architecture while examining the values and underlying commonsense of the vernacular in shaping our built environment.

In this film the philosopher in R L Kumar, a trained accountant reflects on his attempts to build houses differently with a passion for the earth and the people he is working with. This exploration has made Kumar an architect, builder, comrade to his workers and philosopher to some of his NGO friends and chief haranguer to others.

a film by John D'Souza, Centre for Education and Documentation, Mumbai


Reviving ancient Indian style of construction

Time traveling may not be a possibility yet, but an architecture firm in Bangalore is attempting to build structures that look like they are from the pages of a history book. The IT city is now warming up to vernacular architecture.

short report on
Times Now TV channel


book cover
H2O and the Waters of Forgetfulness
by Ivan Illich
South Asian Edition
with a Foreword by Ashis Nandy

Sweeping changes to our cityscape, water bodies and commons have taken place in less than two decades. It is in this context that it became important for the Centre for Vernacular Architecture to publish this edition. The urban landscape being fundamentally transformed into something completely unrelated to culture, climate or traditions of this part of the world, has made this book written more than two decades ago, most relevant today. This hubris of post industrial destruction and violence that civilizations outside the west face today has also produced a veritable crescendo of voices, concerns and protests that resonate with Illich's comment made many years ago — Modernity cherishes most what it destroys. It is this paradox that has been one of Illich's life long concerns. In many ways this book explores this in the context of water.

… this lecture, on what might be called an applied philosophy of water, by an European turned South American to an American audience, tends to have strange resonances in this corner of the world. In this essay, histories of waste, slum and sewage converge with the imagination of purity, cleanliness and civility. Illich reminds us of our responsibility towards water as a constituent of a cultural mythos — a la Raimundo Panikkar — and speaks of water outside the reach of technocratic rationality, water that that defines us while being defined by us. I assure the readers that they will not emerge from the book without being challenged, provoked and enriched…

Ashis Nandy

©Ivan Illich 1986
Special Indian Price: Rs 100 (available at the office)
First published in Great Britain in 1986 by Marion Boyars Publishers, 24 Lacy Road, London SW15INL


Remembering Kumar book cover
Remembering Kumar:
A Vernacular Way of Life

Ed: Chalam Bennurakar, Madhu Bhushan, Madhuri Rao
A book of memories and tributes put together for the first memorial of Kumar on June 23, 2013.



Random Rubble book cover
Random Rubble:
A Reader on the Vernacular

by R.L. Kumar; Foreword by Ashis Nandy
Woven together with extracts from two texts that were fundamental to his thinking — Hind Swaraj by M.K Gandhi and Paul Feyerabend's Dialogues on KnowledgeRandom Rubble is a commemorative volume of essays written by the late R.L Kumar being brought out on the occasion marking the third year of his passing away.

Celebrating his work and his eclectic thinking that inspired and exasperated many, we hope this collection of his random thoughts will "unsettle'' and provoke readers into formulating a broader conceptual understanding of the vernacular within which a more critical praxis of contemporary architecture can be located.  

The foreword has been written by Prof. Ashis Nandy and the Introduction by Himanshu Burte.

Suggested Price: Rs. 250


Research Papers

What is Architecture? R.L. Kumar
The Future of Knowledge and Culture: A Dictionary for the 21st Century
Ed: Ashis Nandy and Vinay Lal

Download PDF

Public Spaces: The Architecture of Supervised Freedom — R.L. Kumar
Download PDF



portrait of RL Kumar by Bhima Rao Murgod

CVA Trust Founder
R.L Kumar


Following Kumar's passing,
we had started a Tributes Page
to acknowledge the tributes and messages of support that poured in from all those who knew him or had heard of him. We keep this page open inviting you to continue sharing your memories of Kumar
and also your thoughts on how
we could take his ideas and
CVA Trust forward.

Please visit the Guest Book