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Bijoy Jain’s Studio Mumbai awarded the 2020 Alvar Aalto Medal

March 22, 2021

The 14th Alvar Aalto Medal has been awarded to the Indian architecture practice Studio Mumbai and its founding director Bijoy Jain. The award founded in 1967 to celebrate the legacy of the Finnish architect Alvar Aalto, was designed by the architect himself to honour creative architectural work. Given out every three years by the Alvar Aalto Foundation, the medal “can be given to persons who have gained merit in the field of creative architecture in a very significant way”.

Bijoy Jain, founder, Studio Mumbai; image courtesy: Studio Mumbai

Selected by the Alvar Aalto Foundation, the Museum of Finnish Architecture, the Finnish Association of Architects SAFA, the Finnish Architectural Society, and the City of Helsinki, for Studio Mumbai’s “skillful synthesis of architecture and craftsmanship”, the Indian practice was awarded the Alvar Aalto Medal 2020 in February at the Finnish Embassy in New Delhi, India. Scheduled to be presented in 2020, the ceremony was postponed until this year, due to the ongoing global Covid-19 pandemic.

“The example of Studio Mumbai as a successful programmatic collaboration between architect and craftsmen leads one to hope that this local condition can be re-integrated within future architectural production throughout the world.”

Jan Utzon, Jury Chair, Alvar Aalto Medal 2020
Image courtesy: Studio Mumbai
Carrimjee House; photo: Giovanni Hänninen

The office’s design work completely reflects insightful considerations such as understanding the unique geographical, climatic, and social characteristics of the environment. Pointing out the studio’s values crucial for Alvar Aalto, Jan Utzon, the chairman of the jury that comprised Spanish architect Enrique Sobejano, Swiss civil engineer and urban planner Gunnar Heipp, and Finnish architects Pia Ilonen and Anu Puustinen, said that Studio Mumbai’s “design touches all elements of a project”. In the official statement, the jury praised Jain’s successful programmatic collaboration between architects and craftsmen, leading to the integration of the local conditions within future architectural production throughout the world.

Carrimjee House; image courtesy: Studio Mumbai
Copper House; image courtesy: Studio Mumbai

“In the creative process the conversation between architect and craftsmen takes place face to face; and it is from their combined perspective and mutual work, that the project takes shape. This special integration retains the human scale of the process and object of production. The dominant ‘western’ consumerist society of the modern era seems to be progressively losing any holistic conception of architecture, as adopted by Aalto,” Utzon shared further. The Alvar Aalto Medal 2020 exhibition opens at the Museum of Finnish Architecture in 2021.

The Mumbai-born architect, Bijoy Jain, 56, graduated as an architect from the University of Washington in St. Louis, USA, in 1990. He worked in Los Angeles and London before returning to India. Jain has taught at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen, the Yale School of Architecture at Yale University, New Haven, US, and the Accademia di architettura, Università della Svizzera Italiana in Mendrisio, Switzerland. He founded the architectural practice Studio Mumbai Architects in 1995, and currently, it operates internationally in India, Japan and Europe. The studio employs a multidisciplinary team of architects, engineers, craftsmen and master builders.

The 2017 Alvar Aalto medal – that was also its 50th anniversary – was awarded to Chinese architect Zhang Ke.

See the gallery of some of Studio Mumbai’s projects here:

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