Revathi Sekhar Kamath, the pioneer of mud architecture in India, passed away on July 21, 2020, at the age of 65. She was born into a Tamil Brahmin family in Bhubaneswar, Odisha & her early years were spent in Bangalore where she grew up in several tribal areas along the Mahanadi river. Her father was an engineer on the Hirakud Dam & played a pivotal role in her career. She achieved her bachelor’s in architecture in the year 1977 from the School of Planning and Architecture in Delhi & by 1981 obtained her post-graduate degree in Urban and Regional Planning. Soon Kamath began working with the Group for Rural and Urban Planning, in partnership with Vasant Kamath, Romi Khosla, and Narendra Dengle.
She also worked for the National Institute of Urban Affairs and taught at the School of Planning and Architecture in New Delhi from 1984-1991. The tallest stainless steel structure in India, the JSPL gateway at Raigarh, Chhattisgarh also comes under her endless list of achievements.
It was in the year 1981 that Revathi and Vasant opened their own studio, known as the “Kamath Design Studio – Architecture, Planning, and Environment”. The studio worked on various types of projects, but the Anandgram Project with slum dwellers near the Shadipur Depot was one of their first, in 1983. With this project, the Kamaths surveyed over 350 individuals to understand their unique housing needs as informal, nomadic people on squatted land. From this, the Evolving Home project was born – where the resident artists and craftsmen of Anandgram were able to coordinate with Revathi and Vasant Kamath in order to create a new legally recognized community housing development that addressed their needs and desires. The Kamath’s also created a prototype for mobile creches (a sort of nursery meets educational center) for working women in the slum resettlement colony of Seemapuri in East Delhi.
The diversity of Revathi Kamath’s skills can easily be seen when we take into account her notable works including Desert Resort in Mandawa – Rajasthan, Mudhouse 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, New Delhi, Auditorium at Raigarh, Chhattisgarh and Tal Chhapar Sanctuary for Government of Rajasthan, Churu, Rajasthan and Gnostic Centre, New Delhi.
Amongst the aforementioned projects, Revathi Kamath also contributed to the “Traditional Architecture in India” exhibition in Paris in 1986 and had work nominated for two more Aga Khan awards – the Community Center in Maheshwar and Nalin Tomar House at Hauz Khas, Delhi. She recently completed the Ram Mandir temple in the Kushalpura village in Rajasthan and the Museum of Tribal Heritage at Bhopal. With nearly 40 years of sustainable design experience, Revathi Kamath was the recipient of the World Women in Arts, Architecture, and Design Sustainability Award in 2018.
She truly was a force to reckon with! The Architecture & Design Industry is truly indebted to her immense craft & love for sustainable design.