My interest lies primarily in doing what I do, with care. As an architect, the way you imagine opening a door, developing a chair, designing the texture of a wall or a floor, is very important. It’s about quality, about the consideration you apply to the making of something. And it’s about being attentive to the environment, the materials, and the inhabitants. It has to be inclusive.
The Indian architectural practice Studio Mumbai, founded by Bijoy Jain in 2005, has developed a body of work that continues to reference aspects of both Indian and Western cultures. What sets the studio apart is a brilliant combination of tradition and modernity. Local resources and Indian craftsmanship form the basis for highly contemporary architectural designs. Thoughtful and uncompromising to the last detail, the architecture of Studio Mumbai shows a deep concern for the relationship between man and nature and insists on the importance of the genius loci.
After graduating from Washington University in Saint Louis, USA, Bijoy Jain worked with Richard Meier before returning to India to found his own practice. In 2005, ‘Bijoy Jain & Associates’ became ‘Studio Mumbai’ – with a new production model in which a small team, including a carpenter and a stonemason, takes charge of both design and construction. Studio Mumbai has its head office at Alibag, two hours’ drive from the city centre, in an area that is still partly rural. As the firm is continuing to expand, it recently opened a second studio, Saath Rasta, in the very heart of the city.
While the majority of Studio Mumbai’s projects are houses located around India, a number of their projects have achieved international renown. Bijoy Jain gained worldwide recognition with the installation ‘Work-Place’ at the 2010 Venice Architecture Biennale, offering an insight into the firm’s unique process of learning through making. Another important presentation that enhanced the studio’s reputation was the installation ‘In between Architecture’ at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, drawing inspiration from parasitic architecture that emerges between existing buildings in high-density urban centres like Mumbai. Today, Studio Mumbai is constructing buildings in several countries, working only with clients who accept its conditions: taking the time it needs and working with a team of local artisans. The studio is currently working on projects in Jaipur, Nice, Zürich and Florence.
In the summer of 2018, Studio Mumbai won a prestigious competition for the extension and renovation of the Beaucastel winery, perhaps the best winery in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, owned by the Perrin family. The studio was picked from an impressive list of participating architects such as Shigeru Ban and John Pawson. The project won because of “its profoundly ecological design… its architectural vision that is both vernacular and contemporary, with an approach that is innovative and forward looking, but with construction processes that are inspired by ancestral know-how.”
Bijoy Jain’s work has been shown at many venues, including the Alvar Alto Symposium, the Architectural League of New York and the Canadian Centre for Architecture, which holds several of his project archives. In 2015-2016 a major monographic exhibition entitled ‘Between the Sun and the Moon’ opened at Bordeaux’s Arc en Rêve, Centre d’Architecture and at the Danish Architecture Centre in Copenhagen. The exhibition focused on the work processes of Studio Mumbai, and explored the recurring themes that inform Bijoy Jain’s oeuvre. In 2016, Studio Mumbai was selected to design Melbourne’s MPavilion, an annual commission touted as Australia’s answer to London’s Serpentine Gallery Pavilion. Bijoy Jain presented again work at the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2016 and at the Chicago Architecture Biennial in 2017.
Studio Mumbai has received several awards, including the Global Award in Sustainable Architecture (2009) finalist for the 11th cycle of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture (2010), winner of the seventh Spirit of Nature Wood Architecture Award, Finland (2012), winner of the third BSI Swiss Architecture Award (2012), most recently winner of the Grande Medaille d’Or from the Academie D’Architecture, Paris, France (2014), and the University of Hasselt, Belgium bestowed an honorary doctorate on Bijoy Jain in 2014. Jain has held several teaching positions at international architecture schools. He is currently teaching at the Accademia di Architettura in Mendrisio, Switzerland.
The furniture work of Bijoy Jain is part of the collections of Pompidou, Paris; SFMoMa, San Francisco; Lacma, Los Angeles and MAAS, Sydney.
A+-Lecture by Bijoy Jain at BOZAR, Brussels on the occasion of the MANIERA show in April 2016.