If someone told you the bus terminus in Kalasipalya, Krishna Rao Pavilion in Basavanagudi, and Principal’s Bungalow in Maharani College have something in common, you would wonder aloud: How?
Well, they share a common architectural connection. These were sculpted in 1940s by German-born jewish architect, Otto H Koenigsberger, subject of a in-depth research by Rachel Lee, for her dissertation at Technical University, Berlin.
Tracing Koenigsberger’s Bangalore connection through letters, old photographs and words of adulation, Rachel unfolded the hitherto unknown saga of the architect, as senior citizens, seasoned architects and general public sat in rapt attention. It was old Bangalore time again at Bangalore International Centre auditorium, Energy and Research Institute (TERI), on Tuesday. Koenigsberger was introduced to India by his uncle Max Born, a physicist, with the help of Sir C V Raman. When he first came to Bangalore, he shared a bungalow at 42, Infantry Road with the Brinitzer family, who were also Jews.
His initial days were spent studying the local culture and the City. Koenigsberger was more interested in constructing structures by first studying the climatic condition and social aspect of the place. He first built the Municipal Swimming Pool in 1940 followed by various other structures such as the bus terminus in 1940 and Krishna Rao Pavilion in 1941.
Koenigsberger was against the usage of domes and clock towers and wanted to follow his own style without imitating the West or any other country. But, as Rachel recalled, the then Dewan of Mysore, Mirza Ismail, insisted on using the clock towers and the domes.
Six months later, when Mirza Ismail retired, Koenigsberger got the freedom to mix and match his style. He constructed the Serum Institute at Hebbal in 1941 with huge verandahs and elliptical staircases. Then came the Principal’s Bungalow at Maharani College in 1941 and several others followed soon.