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Public Lecture Bijoy Jain // Thinking/Making


Public Lecture
Bijoy Jain // Thinking/Making

Friday 10 May 2013 // 6pm

The Physics Room
Third Floor
Old Central Post Office Building (Alice in Videoland/C1)
209 Tuam St

Free admission.
Limited seating, bookings recommended:

Bijoy Jain, founder and architect of Studio Mumbai, an architectural practice almost unique in the world, will visit Christchurch next week to deliver a free public lecture.

Here in New Zealand, as in much of the West, there has been a severe erosion of craft skills within the construction industry. In India, traditional building skills have not yet been lost and a different balance of material and labour costs means architecture can be produced in ways and using techniques largely impossible in the so-called “developed economies”. Making positive use of India’s unique social and economic conditions Studio Mumbai operates as a workshop in which carpenters, masons, electricians, plumbers, architects, and engineers all share the same workspace.  The 100-strong team designs and constructs every aspect of their buildings, down to door handles and hinges. Their buildings make particular use of traditional construction techniques, including labour-intensive plastering methods and polished concrete.

The Studio Mumbai’s approach, however, goes beyond simply exploiting locally available skills. Studio founder Bijoy Jain, who describes himself as “the conductor of an orchestra”, has developed a unique methodology in which every member of the team contributes ideas and drawings to the design. Carpenters, masons and electricians carry sketchbooks in which to develop proposals and refine details.  Following an iterative process and employing open communication, ideas are explored through the production of sketches, drawings, material studies, and large-scale mock-ups.

Studio Mumbai’s buildings emerge from face-to-face interaction and ongoing sharing of knowledge between all the people and elements that contribute to the firm’s projects– site, designers, consultants, materials, clients, climate, and craftspeople. Exhibitions of the firm’s work, such as their prize-winning installation at the 2010 Venice Biennale, reflect this philosophy and show not the architecture they have created but their method of working. Rather than the typical display of model and photos of completed buildings, they transport their workshop to the exhibition space, showing tools, material samples, maquettes, building components, and full-scale mock-ups.

An architectural practice almost unique in the world, Studio Mumbai redefines the construction process not as a collection of techniques or skills that can be retained, developed or lost, but as a process that is relational, entrepreneurial, open-ended and empowering.


Bijoy Jain was born in Mumbai, India in 1965. He studied in the United States and gained his master's degree in architecture at Washington University in St. Louis in 1990. He worked in Los Angeles and London and then spent some time traveling before returning to live and work in Mumbai, beginning independent practice in 1995. Studio Mumbai was formed under his direction as a collaborative team of architects, engineers, and skilled craftspeople who design and construct buildings directly.

Bijoy Jain's visit to New Zealand is supported by the 5th Auckland Triennial, The University of Auckland School of Architecture and Planning, Asia NZ and The Warren Trust. His Christchurch lecture has received additional support from the Canterbury Branch of the New Zealand Institute of Architects and the Physics Room.

Attendance at this lecture is worth 10 CPD points for registered architects.

Copper House II, Maharashtra, India (2011) by Studio Mumbai. Photo: Hélène Binet


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