The Jencks Foundation and the Royal Institute of British Architects has awarded Indian architect Anupama Kundoo the 2021 RIBA Charles Jencks Award.

Kundoo is the 16th winner of the RIBA Charles Jencks Award, which is given to architects who have “made a major contribution simultaneously to the theory and practice of architecture”. It is awarded by RIBA and The Jencks Foundation, which was established to build on the legacy of architecture historian Charles Jencks‘ work.

A jury comprising RIBA president Simon Allford, architect and critic Edwin Heathcote, architect and Royal College of Art dean Adrian Lahoud, Jencks Foundation founder Lily Jencks, and 2013 winner Benedetta Tagliabue awarded Kundoo the prize.

Kundoo’s work has “built bridges”

“At its best, her architecture is elegant, ecological and always intriguing,” Heathcote said of Kundoo’s work. “She has built bridges between academia in Europe and South Asia.”

Kundoo will be presented with the award on 2 November, when she will also give a lecture at the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). This will be followed by an interview with a critic in collaboration with the New Architecture Writers, a free programme for emerging black and minority ethnic design writers.

Kundoo, who is based in Berlin, trained as an architect in Mumbai. After graduating in 1989, she moved to the south-Indian experimental city of Auroville where she built homes, institutional and cultural buildings that experimented with various materials and sustainable construction methods.

This sustainable and research-based practice followed Kundoo to her roles as lecturer and professor at universities across the world, including Parsons The New School for Design, Yale University, University of Queensland and her most recent role at FH Potsdam.

Practice focuses on local-led design and traditional techniques

Her practice has a holistic focus and centres on housing initiatives, local-led design, material research, and traditional craft and construction techniques.

“Our built environment is the physical stage on which all human stories are lived out,” said Kundoo.”This physical stage is the historical and ongoing manifestation of human imagination operating within real (or, imaginary!) constraints.”