Aalto Medal to Bijoy Jain

John Hill
18. March 2021
The medal designed by Alvar Aalto. (Photo: Screenshot from March 16th award announcement)

Indian architect Bijoy Jain and his office, Studio Mumbai, have won the 14th Alvar Aalto Medal, conferred by the Alvar Aalto Foundation, Museum of Finnish Architecture (MFA), Finnish Architectural Society, Finnish Association of Architects (SAFA), and the City of Helsinki.

Given every few years since 1967, when Finnish architect Alvar Aalto received the inaugural award, the Alvar Aalto Medal is "awarded to living persons who have in a significant way distinguished themselves creatively within the field of architecture." The jury citation for the 2020 award emphasizes place, landscape, and craft in the buildings designed by Jain and Studio Mumbai, aligning them with those designed by Aalto last century.

Jury chair Jan Utzon, the Danish architect and son of 1982 medal winner Jørn Utzon, said in a statement: "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."

Accompanying Utzon on the jury were architect Enrique Sobejano from Spain, civil engineer and urban planner Gunnar Heipp from Switzerland, and architects Pia Ilonen and Anu Puustinen from Finland.

The major projects by Jain and Studio Mumbai cited by the award organizers 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). Studio Mumbai was also responsible for the design of the 2016 MPavilion in Melbourne.

Watch the 12-minute award video for comments from Utzon, the conferring of the medal to Jain by Ritva Koukku-Ronde, Ambassador of Finland to India, at the Embassy of Finland in New Delhi, and comments by Jain about "the potential of architecture" and his experiences in Finland:

The exhibition Bijoy Jain. Studio Mumbai – Alvar Aalto Medal 2020 is on display at the Museum of Finnish Architecture in Helsinki from March 17 to August 22, 2021.

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