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Vinoo Kaley

Bamboo Idealist Vinoo Kaley was born in Wardha on 30th June 1946. After his graduation from JJ College of Architecture in 1968, and a great many wanderings in as a Bhikshu of vernacular building wisdom, he started work at Wardha once again as architect, activist, manufacturer of lime, builder in mud and maverick lobbyist for cause of the Gandhian mode of building. 

The three decades since seventies that Vinoo worked with Wardha as his spiritual centre of architectural activism saw him move to Bombay briefl y and raise a family of three children at Nagpur. He soon grew into an incessant communicator of Gandhian ideologies addressing students, scientists, fellow professionals, the bureaucrats of Delhi or anyone on the road who was willing to listen. A diehard optimist, fighting the brutalist industrial apparatus with Bamboo as his weapon, Vinoo was a pragmatist. He is quoted “There is no ideal, only factors of real that we don’t understand”.

In the last decade of his life, Vinoo’s singular passion was Bamboo – he designed, and built with it, wrote about it, fought for its reinstatement as building material, and experimented successfully with it as structural columns, large span trusses and in foundations. He designed and built entirely in bamboo 40 houses in Maharashtra. The Crafts bazaar in Bamboo that he put up at Hyderabad was nominated for the Aga Khan award in Architecture. Venu Bharati; an illustrated volume on Bamboo was Vinoo’s final gift to the lovers of bamboo the world over. Vinoo Kaley died suddenly on 11th June 1998. Those who knew him and even those whose lives he touched briefl y would agree that the striking aspect of Vinoo’s personality was his total and intense commitment to the service of others. He believed that it was through strengthening the professional aspects of their work that artisan communities would attain the level of self confi dence which would allow them to take their rightful place in our society. Vinoo was convinced that the artisan’s way of thinking and solving problems had immense relevance in terms of providing creative solutions particularly suited to the Indian context. Very few people do put into these beliefs the energy and tireless efforts that Vinoo did. He drove himself, his family and his associates to transcend their limitations. As a true community worker, he felt and clearly demonstrated that there could be a way of life in which there was no division between the personal and societal, that they were part of totality.

Our society has produced and continues to produce great individuals and exceptionally creative ideas. What is needed is willingness and ability and drive to channelize the creative energy of individuals into the community.Vinoo believed passionately that this was necessary and possible. He continually chiseled within himself the qualities that are needed in the endeavour. He showed that vision has to be allied to the discipline, that openness is what compensates for individual weakness and above all that a sense of community overrides ideological bias.