The fourteenth Alvar Aalto Medal has been awarded to the Indian architectural office Studio Mumbai and its director Bijoy Jain. The award, carrying the name of the Finnish architect and designed by Aalto himself, was founded in 1967 in order to honor 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”.
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 his atelier's “skillful synthesis of architecture and craftsmanship”, Bijoy Jain of Studio Mumbai was awarded the Alvar Aalto Medal 2020 in February at the Finnish Embassy in New Delhi, India. Scheduled to be handed out in 2020, the ceremony was postponed until this year, due to the global pandemic.
Understanding the unique geographical, climatic and social characteristics of the environment, the office’s design work reflects completely this insightful consideration. Grounded on several values crucial for Alvar Aalto, according to Jan Utzon, the chairman of the jury, Studio Mumbai’s “design touches all elements of a project”. In the official statement, the jury praises Bijoy Jain’s successful programmatic collaboration between architects and craftsmen, leading to the integration of the local conditions within future architectural production throughout the world.
An exhibition of Studio Mumbai’s works will open at the Museum of Finnish Architecture, Helsinki, from March 17 till August 22. The jury members of the award were architect Enrique Sobejano from Spain, civil engineer and urban planner Gunnar Heipp from Switzerland, and architects Pia Ilonen and Anu Puustinen from Finland, while Architect Jan Utzon from Denmark was the jury chair.
The buildings created by Bijoy Jain and his collaborators display a strong connection to a specific place and landscape: geographical, climatic, and social particularities of the environment around the architectures are considered. 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. -- Jan Utzon, the chairman of the jury, in the jury report.
Bijoy Jain (Mumbai - 1965) 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, the USA, and the Accademia di Architettura, Università Della Svizzera Italiana in Mendrisio, Switzerland.
Operating in India, Japan, and Europe, Studio Mumbai Architects was founded in 1995. It employs a multidisciplinary team of architects, engineers, craftsmen, and master builders. Major projects by Bijoy Jain and Studio Mumbai include Copper House II, a residential building in Chondi, Maharashtra, India (2011); the Ganga Maki Textile Studio factory building in Dehradun, Uttarakhand, India (2017); and the Yamashiroya Community Centre in Onomichi, Japan (2018). Among its honors, Studio Mumbai has been awarded the French Grande Medaille d’Or (2014) and the RIBA International Fellow (2017).