A sensuous encounter with Indian architecture
In the midst of the chilly Danish winter, now is the chance to be whisked off on a sensuous journey to the colors, scents and shapes of India. Such will be the experience when India’s Studio Mumbai visits the Danish Architecture Center with the exhibition Studio Mumbai – In between the Sun and the Moon.
Studio Mumbai is the first Indian architecture practice to have gained international attention by building a bridge between locality and globality. Rooted in building traditions and craftsmanship, Studio Mumbai grapples with a new Indian reality that is dominated by environmental challenges, urbanisation and scarcity of resources.
In the exhibition, the founder of Studio Mumbai, Bijoy Jain shares his view of India, providing an insight into the philosophy, sources of inspiration and working process of his architecture practice. For example, there are video and sound installations portraying everyday life in India, a tar cast of old handles and power points, prototypes of Studio Mumbai’s projects and a lighting installation presenting Mumbai by night. As far as Bijoy Jain is concerned, India is an inexhaustible source of inspiration, which makes its mark on the work of his practice. Rooted in Indian craftsmanship and building practices, but still taking into account the world and its current challenges, Studio Mumbai represents an approach to architecture that hovers between East and West, and between the sun and the moon.
“As an architect trained in the West, I had to learn to work “between yes and no”, hovering between two conceptions of time and efficiency.On one side there is what I call “Greenwich time”, globalised, highly codified, based on the course of the Sun, and which India has integrated via its colonial history; and on the other side there’s the time of the Moon, based on the fluctuations of water, tides and monsoons, which remains very influential in our pagan society. There’s a huge potential to be explored in the way these two ways of operating come together.”
Bijoy Jain, founder of Studio Mumbai
More craftsmen than architects
What also makes the practice different is the fact that, for the most part, there are more craftsmen on the staff than architects. Studio Mumbai is located out in the Indian jungle. It is here that its craftsmen produce full-size prototypes: a totally different working process that enables them to test things along the way. This means that construction and architecture are more inextricably linked and the two disciplines achieve an entirely different understanding of each other.
“It is in this area of tension between tradition-bound building practice, on one hand, and craftsmanship and architectural design, on the other, that Studio Mumbai raises the fundamental question of what modern, contemporary architecture can also look like and how we can experience it. Their response shows us that we in the West may have overlooked the fact that something very old and ‘natural’ can easily live in, and together with what is new and contemporary – and that we need it! That we need contact with the earth, nature, the material, the hand – and craftsmanship. So we are delighted that our Studio Mumbai exhibition will provide Danes, who have their own interesting tradition of craftsmanship, with insight into how they can rethink it in the 21st century,” says Kent Martinussen, CEO of the Danish Architecture Center.
Studio Mumbai’s main area of work in India has been housing, and their work is closely linked to the local context and the spirit of the place. For example, they concentrate on the use of local materials, traditions of craftsmanship, building techniques etc., transferring them to modern, sustainable buildings. They also regard an understanding of landscape and specific climatic conditions as essential for creating buildings that match a local context: for example, buildings, which can withstand the heavy monsoon rain that is prevalent in India. This means they go against the tide of architecture that is more about signalling the style of a particular architect than the context, of which the building is a part. You can discover exactly how this approach finds expression in their buildings from 14 January to 6 March in the exhibition at the Danish Architecture Center.
The exhibition Studio Mumbai is curated and designed by Studio Mumbai and Arc en Reve.
The exhibition at the Danish Architecture Center is supported by Realdania, The Ministry of Culture of Denmark and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark.
About the exhibition
‘Studio Mumbai – in between the Sun and the Moon’ opens January 13 and will be on show until March 6. Entrance: 60 DKK. The exhibition is developed by Arc en rêve center d’architecture in Bordeaux and has previously been on show there.
About Danish Architecture Center
The Danish Architecture Center (DAC) is Denmark’s national center for the development and dissemination of knowledge about architecture, building and urban development.
We offer a wide range of professional and cultural activities, including exhibitions, professionalization, seminars, guided tours in the city, etc.
Monday – Friday: 10 AM – 5 PM
Wednesday open until 9 PM. Free admission to the exhibition 5-9 PM
Saturday – Sunday: 10 AM – 5 PM
About Studio Mumbai
Studio Mumbai was founded by the Indian architect, Bijoy Jain. He started the practice after studying in the United States and working in Los Angeles and London from 1989 to 1995. In 2005, he transformed the practice’s organisation into what it is today, in which carpenters, bricklayers, plumbers etc. make up a large part of the architectural practice. Studio Mumbai attracted attention after building two private dwellings (Tara House and Palmyra House), which made use of traditional craftsmanship, and subsequently winning the Global Award for Sustainable Architecture in 2008. They were then invited to participate in the 2010 Venice Architecture Biennale, where they were honoured with a Special Mention prize. Currently they are working on several international and large-scale projects in the likes of Japan, Spain and China.