Intern-mentorship Programme

Intern-mentorship Program CAF

On June 24, the Chennai Architecture Foundation (CAF) would launch the internship-mentoring programme for architecture students. The objective of this programme is to make the one-year training period and stay at office enriching and educative.

A year ago, an intense conversation among a group of architects about quality of internship and education concluded with a firm idea to improve internship programme. Six architecture firms based in Chennai volunteered to commit their time, resources and funds to develop a flexible training-structure and provide multidisciplinary inputs, and create opportunities for interns to observe, reflect and create a better-built environment. The CAF has coordinated with the firms and came up with an experimental programme.

The six firms are now ready to drive a pilot version of the internship programme. In the coming weeks, they would come together to share their ways of working, discuss their practice, and join the young architects to reflect on the discipline. After six months, the CAF and volunteered firms would review this pilot. They would share views and experience with other interested architecture offices in Chennai, and seek larger participation.

Why this programme?
Recent changes to the educational structure have compelled architects to relook at ways offices offer and conduct internships. Under the new structure, the trainees would spend almost a year in an architect’s office. This makes the training period more than a short, professional excursion. It becomes a formal extension of the education programme. Professional architects, as never before, feel that they have consciously to create, explicitly state and clearly provide adequate opportunities for students to learn. The CAF views this as an opportunity and an essential need to address. It has proposed a year-long programme that would be coterminous with the training period.


The internship-mentoring programme would be in addition to the time trainees would spend in their respective offices. Students would be anchored to the individual firms that select them for an internship. They would participate in programmes organised by the consortium of six offices that will include, design exercises, project visits, discussions, travel and workshops. As a part of this programme, students could move between offices, subject to the approval of the firms, and spend some time in different offices.
The contents of the internship programme would cover 12 modules. Each module is organised around a theme and would include events, discussions and workshops. There would be fortnightly discussions with architects, artists, filmmakers, historians and people from different fields about their work and approaches. The events would be held either in a common place or in different offices. The schedule would be announced in advance.

Trainees are encouraged to make full use of these programmes by reading the texts given, joining the conversation, making field trips and enthusiastically participating in the events organised. They should maintain a dairy – physical or virtual – throughout the programme, which would be more than a logbook. They are encouraged to create blog posts or write their views and experiences in any medium of their choice.

Learning Units
In all, there would be 10 learning units. The first five are detailed below and would be taken up in this half year. The remaining would be completed in the following part of the year.

Mod 1: Self and Society
Architectural education often presents design as a completely individualized endeavour – ideas emerge within the architect’s mind; the designer is the absolute author, and city and things around have any bearing and so on. The design briefs with a bare rectangular site plan and no other contextual information are common. Visual uniqueness and novelty as measures of creativity are extensions of this position. As a result, the public purpose of design, buildings as space that facilitates social relationship, materials as a collective resource, and environmental responsibility are seldom part of the building process. Design education is not sufficiently grounded in political and social conditions.

To reflect about this, the internship programme proposes a learning unit on self and society. This would help students to examine the relationship between their self and the world around, question notions about individuality and collective, and introspect their position as designers. Best way to go about this is to hear stories about people, historical movements and institutions that question the relationship between individual and society.

The CAF would launch this year’s internship-mentoring programme with this unit. Speakers would include a noted historian and writer, visit to a school that pursues alternative form of education and conversation with an educationist, and watch a film along with a filmmaker and critic.

Mod 2: Making of a building
Behind-the-door stories about building are not only juicy and fascinating, but also hold the key to understand that decisions about buildings are not often made only on technical grounds. Many things are at play – power, prejudice, capital and so on. Architects would share their experience about how they straddle the worlds of conception and persuasion.

Mod 3: Writing and reading Architecture
Select texts relating to architecture and building projects would be circulated in advance. Texts would include both Indian authors and others. During the meetings, moderator would read extracts and conduct a discussion around these texts. There would be writing workshops to develop communication skills and research briefs. Students would be encouraged to come with a topic and discuss them with the resource person to develop broad ideas into a reasonably persuasive story proposal. Professional copy editors would review their writings and would discuss ways to improve them.

Mod 4: Travel
Travel to a historic site or a visit to a series of contemporary buildings would be organised. Architects and resource persons would accompany the students and walk them through the buildings, and converse about the design and construction of the buildings.
To start with, this year, the students would travel to Hampi for a few days along with three resource persons

Mod 5: City and Buildings

Buildings and cities are inextricablylinked. Building norms and master plans, in a sense, almost determine the built form even before the design is conceptualised. High impact buildings could change the face of an area. At times, individual buildings have to defer their decisions in the interests of the larger city block. This module would explain the different scales of city planning and how individual buildings are affected by larger decisions. It would also focus on the creation of public realm and norms

Remaining five modules areas follows:

Mod 6: Engaging Technology

Mod 7: In a construction site

Mod 8: Art and Science

Mod 9: Carpentry and Pottery

Mod 10: Economics of a building

Re-Use by Daniel Niggli EM2N Architects


On occasion of the Year of Swiss architecture, Design and Engineering in India, 2013-14

The Embassy of Switzerland in India,
The Chennai Architecture foundation and Archilogue,
School of Architecture and Planning, Anna University Chennai


by Daniel Niggli, EM2N Architects Switzerland

a talk moderated by Dr. A Srivathsan, Senior deputy editor, The Hindu

7th March 6.00 pm at TAG Auditorium
(Mechanical Dept. Workshop Block)
College of Engineering Guindy,
Anna University, Chennai

 For details contact – 91-44- 22359294, 2235 2341

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Chennai Architecture Foundation Talk Series 2012

10 Architects from the city will speak for 10 minutes each on One project followed by discussion with the architects.

5.30 pm,  Friday 18 May 2012
Rukmani Arangam, Kalakshetra Foundation

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Doshi and Christopher Benninger at caf

Chennai Architecture Foundation Master Talk Series 2012
CAF is proud to invite you to a Book release and Project presentation by two eminent architects of our times

Presentation of Projects by CHRISTOPHER BENNINGER

This event is jointly hosted by CAF with Kalakshetra, SAP Anna University, Journal of ideas and Praxis((Artes Foundation) and Kaizen .

Event schedule

5.30pm   Tea

6.00 pm
followed by a discussion with panelist Leela Samson, Sadanand Menon, Sujatha Shanker and Durganand Balsavar.

7.15 pm
Presentation of Projects by CHRISTOPHER BENINGER
followed by a discussion with panelist Geeta Doctor, A Srivatsan, Seethalakshmi and Mahesh Radhakrishnan

5.30pm,  Monday 20 February 2012
Rukmani Arangam, Kalakshetra Foundation

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Chennai Architecture Foundation Master Talk Series 2011

Aniket Bhagwat is an Architect and a Landscape Architect from Ahmedabad, and now with an office in Mumbai. He  has taught over two decades, writes, researches and practices. His firm in recent times is considered as amongst the 50 landscape design firms in the world that redefine the profession’
In the last decade the architectural work that his firm has done has examined a range of varied  typologies and is nationally and internationally acclaimed. 
He is the co- founder of LEAF ( Landscape and Environment Advancement Foundation), The Future Institute, ( Forum for Urban Transformation Research and Enterprise) New Delhi, SPADE  Trust, A  Research  and Publication initiative, ISOLA, ( Indian Society of landscape Architects) and is now working on setting up a knowledge repository for spatial studies in India

6.00pm,  Friday 30 September 2011
Rukmani Arangam, Kalakshetra Foundation

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Event Summary

Our Masters series presentation was on sept 30th at Kalakshetra.

Aniket is an architect from CEPT 1977 batch. He did his masters in landscape from SPA Delhi. He then joined his father’s firm along with his architect wife Smruti.
Today the firm is one of the top 50 firms in the world in landscape and also a prominent firm in the field of architecture.  Their work covers a very large spectrum – from converting basalt quarries into a forest and bringing back nature to a destroyed landscape. Landscapes for factories, party plots, for a wide range of houses that the firm has designed to a large number of urban design projects, townships etc. Interspersed in all of this, he has been a faculty at CEPT Masters program for 20 years, was responsible for the highly awaited 12 on 12 series and also with the highly acclaimed publication of SPADE.

I have heard Aniket many a time but every lecture is worked upon with a different approach, message and projects.

The lecture at CAF was titled ‘TEN WORDS TEN PICTURES AND A MEDELY SOMEWHERE’. This talk was his concern with many issues that trouble the profession at large. The content of the talk is hosted on the web site and would give the reader a clearer picture.

The firm I think is the only firm in India that combines architecture landscape and craft in a singular cohesive manner. Every project that was shown was an exploration on its own, based on typology, context and then the desire to take it into a different realm. From the project at Gurgaon to the Baroda house, the joy passion energy and the commitment to the projects was all encompassing. The level of details, the desire to explore and the
potential of materials. Craftsmanship. Customization of light fittings to drain covers, etc gave us all an insight to the level of involvement.

There was also a small package them to on what trainees of the masters program did under LEAF. This is a research division that is part of the firm, not for profit and funded by the firm. If any one is interested in details I could forward them to you.

Aniket is now involved in setting up firm in partnership with a few others in helping nurture entrepreneurs in the field of building and craft.

It was a very stimulating talk which had the audience spell bound and there were some very interesting conversations after the talk.

It is the endeavors of CAF to bring reputed architects to Chennai so as to allow us see work of good quality, interact and also meet up with one another. It helps in bringing the fraternity together and hopefully something can come out of this. The reason I say this is that the audience for this was very small and I felt that many missed this. If there is any reason that kept you away apart from personal reasons we at CAF would appreciate your
inputs so that we can have a better participation next time.

Pramod Balakrishnan
for CAF



Sheila Sri Prakash

Sheila Sri Prakash, Principal Architect and Founder of Shilpa Architects in 1979, has the distinction of being the first woman in India to start her own architectural firm. The firm is known for its work inspired by sustainable vernacular architectural practices as well as a sensitivity for society and the built-natural environment. Notable projects include the Madras Art Museum at Cholamandal Artists’ Village and Mahindra World City.

6.30pm,  Friday 19th August 2011
at KSM Consultants
1B, 6th floor, e-block, Nelson Chambers,
115/45, Nelson Manickam road, Chennai 29


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Inspired by the writings of the legendary Ayn Rand
started practice under the title JAISIM – FOUNTAINHEAD.
Recipient of several awards including Architect of the year J K AWARD 1992.

6.00pm,  Friday 15th July 2011
Kalakshetra Foundation


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Event Summary

The Talk # 40 by Jaisim was a brisk and refreshing walk down memory lane. He kept us absorbed through his 75 minute Talk.

The venue, Tagore Hall in Kalakshetra, was an apt and ideal setting for the Talk as he walked us through his 40 + year practice that had its origins in Kalakshetra. Interestingly, there was one house shown that he built virtually by his own hands. Through his talk, he displayed his disregard to ‘conventional practice’ and spoke with relish his various ‘rub-offs’ with Structural consultants through his career. He exhorted the designers to dare to question the obvious and explore unconventional avenues in design.

Sujatha Shankar introduced the speaker with a long list of his achievements. V J Bharat, once a colleague of Jaisim’s and a good friend, handed him a memento on behalf of CAF and L Venkatesh gave Jaisim the Teacher (on the day of Guru Purnima) a fitting vote of thanks.

A very entertaining Talk by a much decorated architect! He regaled a few of us with his humour through dinner after the Talk.  Cheers Jaisim!


Felicitation of C.N.Raghavendran ‘PADMA SHRI’ awardee 2011

Partner M/s. C.R.Narayana Rao Architects and Engineers, C.N. Raghavendran is an alumnus of IIT Kharagpur and UC Berkeley. He is an accomplished member of several professional and academic bodies.

Recipient of Indian Institute of Architects award for ‘Excellence in Design’ 1995,A+D “Architect of the Year –1996”,‘Intelligent Building of the Year 2005’ and Paterson Cancer Center Award in 2003.

5.30pm,  Tuesday 5th April 2011
Pithavadian Hall
School of Architecture and Planning, Anna University

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Arvind Varuna

Graduated in 1989, Arvind Rangan started his practice with Varuna as Arvind Varuna Associates following few years of experience in Chennai and Kuwait. Initially specializing in interior projects now their office works on a wide range of projects that includes office, school, commercial and residential.

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Chennai Architecture Foundation Master Talk Series 2010

‘The Work of Sanjay Mohe, represents the architectural ethos of Bangalore that mediates between a modulated Modernism and the contingencies of the city’s specifities.’
Architectural Design 2007 UK Related links

6.00pm,  Saturday 27 November 2010
Rukmani Arangam, Kalakshetra Foundation


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Event Summary

27 November 2010 marked the first CAF Master Talk – by Sanjay Mohe of Mindspace.

The venue, Rukmini Arangam at Kalakshetra was just superb, the weather was great, much like Bangalore (a home setting for the speaker! ) and the crowd – well we touched 150 people!  In short, a perfect setting for a great talk.

And a great Talk it was !
Mohe began his Talk with a series of delightful slides showing the wide variety of disparate imagery that India has to offer, with the deep rooted wisdom behind it.  Laced with humour, the Talk built on
the need for us as architects to respond to our environment and climate – as was followed in our vernacular responses.

He then took us through different projects – institutional, religious, public and residential.  The design process and intent was clear in the presentation aided by some beautiful sketches, renderings and photographs along with climatic references and responses.  It was also evident that some of the newer projects of Mindspace were exploring different architectural vocabularies.

Post Talk, the discussion was energetic and we were forced to cut it short as we were getting late for our dinner booking.  Among the responses, the one that drew applause was when on being asked if there was a possible ‘same-ness’ in some of the details and spaces across his projects, he humbly said,” Perhaps that is because the same person
has designed them all !”

It was a wonderful evening that I am sure everyone there enjoyed immensely.  We sincerely hope Mohe enjoyed the day as much as we all did.  Just to show what a grand person he is, he funded his travel entirely and in Mahesh’s words, “ Mohe paid to enlighten us!”

Let there be more Mohes !

A special word of thanks to all the contributors of CAF !  If not for you all, this would not have been possible – please continue to support CAF the way you have and we hope to bring more events and Talks.  The next on the agenda is our much-awaited exhibition – CAn.

Until then….

Sriram Ganapathi
Chennai Architecture Foundation

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