In India, Sustainable Design is a Given

Indian architect Bijoy Jain, the founder of Studio Mumbai, is a fast-rising designer known for creating modern buildings using locally-sourced materials like stone and wood. Established in 1996, Jain’s firm received the Global Award for Sustainable Architecture from L’Institut Francais D’Architecture in 2009. His home in the countryside of Alibag, not far from central Mumba, is part of a compound that is home to dozens of the craftsmen he employs. It was recently featured in “Where Architects Live,” an installation at Salone del Mobile in Milan.

WSJ sat down with Bain to discuss the Indian tradiation of sustainable design, among other topics:

A formative design experience was: the yearly road trips my family and I took for two months during summer holidays. I was exposed to such diverse architecture, from Le Corbusier’s modern buildings in Chandigarh to ancient complexes built of granite like the Rameshwaram Temple that was scaled so a ceremonial procession of elephants could walk through it.

Sustainable design is: a given. In India, a lot of people’s homes are self-built and that’s an ingrained tradition. My projects are driven by location—what materials and building techniques are available locally and what people are familiar with. For me, it’s pure economics and it’s easier to do.

My dream design project is: a school for young children. The school I went to was beautifully designed, without divisions for classrooms, and that influenced my work. There’s a freshness to designing for children—they have fewer preconceived ideas of what a building and landscape could possibly be. It allows you to be free, but not in an irresponsible way.

The most perfectly designed object is: a pencil. It’s light, efficiently designed and very effective. I am fascinated with it as a tool for communication. In some ways, it’s an extension of your mind and your body.

Read the rest of the interview at the Wall Street Journal.

Photo: The Chandigarh Legislative Assembly building, designed by French architect Le Corbusier. (Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

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