The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and the Jencks Foundation announced renowned Indian architect Anupama Kundoo as the winner of this year's RIBA Charles Jencks Award. The accolade given in recognition of significant contributions to the theory and practice of architecture acknowledges Kundoo's holistic practice that marries theoretical investigations, material research and sustainable building methods.
Having trained as an architect in Mumbai, Anupama Kundoo developed a practice around sustainable and low-impact building technologies, with a strong focus on material reuse, while at the same time prioritizing adequate responses to the social and economic context. Kundoo is currently a Professor at the FH Potsdam and has taught at various universities over the years, including Parsons The New School for Design, the University of Queensland, or Yale University.
I have tried to advance the idea that architectural imagination must transcend design and enter the realms of materials science and economics, where some of the bigger questions reside. The thrust of my inquiries has been to find practical ways to fulfill the universal human aspiration for refuge, purpose, and social engagement. I am grateful to the Jencks Foundation, RIBA and the Charles Jencks Award Jury for recognizing that the resulting body of work is no less a theory than a theory expressed in words. My hope is that this work inspires others to ask yet more questions so that together we can build an environmentally and economically responsible stage on which more uplifting human stories can be told. – Anupama Kundoo
Balancing theory and practice, her work spans multiple areas and scales, from residential and public buildings to installations and urban planning. Kundoo's most notable projects include Wall House, Volontariat Home for Homeless Children, Sharana Daycare Center, The Library Of Lost Books. In 2012, the architect contributed to the Venice Biennale and its "Common Ground" theme with a 1:1 scale replica of the Wall House. Her design work and design process was recently the subject of an exhibition at the Louisiana Museum in Denmark.
Motivated by her experience of the problems of rapid urbanization in Bombay and implemented in experimental buildings in Auroville, Anupama has refined a strong political and conceptual theory for her practice. This theory is defined by ad-hoc material experimentation and on-site local construction collaboration. Her work points to urgent methodologies for sustainable practices everywhere. Celebrating Anupama's work points to our effort to diversify the practitioners being celebrated, continuing Charles Jencks work on amplifying a plurality of voices and meanings in architecture. - Lily Jencks
The 2021 RIBA Charles Jencks Award jury was composed of RIBA President-Elect Simon Allford, architect and critic Edwin Heathcote, architect and Dean of the RCA Dr Adrian Lahoud, Jencks Foundation founder Lily Jencks, and previous Jencks Award winner, architect Benedetta Tagliabue. Among this year's shortlisted architects and practices were Nigel Coates, Beatriz Colomina, Francis Kéré or MASS Design Group. Kundoo will be presented with the award on November 2nd, followed by a lecture given by the architect and an interview with an architecture critic. Past award winners include Ensamble Studio, Alejandro Aravena, Níall McLaughlin, Herzog & de Meuron, Stephen Holl or Charles Correa.