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Louisiana Museum of Modern Art opens the fourth exhibition in The Architect's Studio series
Anupama Kundoo, Creativity, An Urban Eco-Community, 2003. Auroville, India. Photo: Javier Callejas.

HUMLEBÆK.- Anupama Kundoo – Taking Time is the fourth exhibition in the series The Archi­tect’s Studio at Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. It opens the door to the workshop, the archives and the field where the architect Anupama Kundoo lives out her message of taking time. Kundoo is a unique example of an archi­tect who practices what she preaches. When she talks about sustainable architecture, you believe her.

Anupama Kundoo (born in India in 1967) is a keen advocate of the idea that the architect – contrary to mantras about optimization and timesaving processes – should invest more time in thinking, researching, sharing knowledge and building, because this provides a deeper understanding of context, mate­ri­ality, function and sustainability. And consequently in better architecture. We cannot make time, but we can take time, according to Kundoo, and this is a practice she lives by.

At close quarters, Anupama Kundoo has studied the craft traditions she rethinks. She has followed Indian craftsmen, learned from them, discussed the development of their craft and built with them. She has designed both her own homes to be built by hand without using machinery and with local materials.

Alongside her work in the field, Kundoo has applied her knowledge and developed techniques that extend the life of traditions – in modern forms. Her home Wall House is an outstanding example. In the building of the Voluntariat Homes for Homeless Children in Pondicherry in India, she tried out the potter Ray Meeker’s methods with a project created 100% in situ. Houses are built of hand-made, unfired bricks of clay from the local environment and filled with more bricks. All of this is fired. The house func­tions as a kiln, which hardens its own walls and bricks. The surplus bricks can be used to fund new projects or complete the rest of the architecture on the site.

Anupama Kundoo divides her time equally between drawing architec­ture, doing research and teach­ing. She gives priority to learning from earlier architects and building further on the ideas that are relevant today. It is essential for her to pass on her knowledge to the younger generations, but also to draw inspiration and learn from them, because architecture did not start with her, and will stand long after her, as she herself puts it. Architecture is an art that functions in and through time, and as an architect one must be aware of this. Time is important both as an understanding of evolution and deve­­lop­ment, as attention to personal time and as engagement in the everyday life.

An experimental town

As a young, recently graduated architect, Anupama Kundoo came to the experimental city of Auroville in south-eastern India, and the town has had a strong impact on her work. In Auroville, she built her first home, Hut Petite Ferme (1990), with traditional building techniques and materials at hand such as granite, wood, clay and coconut fibre. Her meeting with the chief architect of Auroville, the French architect and modernist Roger Anger, led to years of collaboration on the development plans of Auroville, right up to Anger’s death in 2008.

Kundoo has designed a number of the city’s central institutional buildings, including the town hall and several housing projects. Today she continues to advance the urban design of the planned city towards its realisation, although she now lives in Berlin. From there she carries on designing the ambitious urban development and the housing project Line of Goodwill, which covers a total of 240,000 m2 and is a continuation of the urban plan that was drawn up with the foundation of the town in 1968. The collaboration with Anger in the collec­tive working style on which Auroville is based has since then typified her activity, in which the architec­ture always arises as a cooperation with others – students, researchers and craftsmen as well as residents and professionals.

The exhibition
Under the first main heading of the exhibition, THE ARCHITECTURE OF TIME, the visitor has access to Anupama Kundoo’s research archives, which include the first sources of inspiration, processed materials and architectural works. This is a presentation of her research on and rethinking of Indian building traditions – an evolutionary journey from the first natural building materials – stone types and clay polished by the forces of nature – through mussel shells and butterflies to simple tools and handmade bricks.

Under the categories Life, Mind and Matter we present Kundoo’s investigations of the nature of materials, the tectonics of earliest living beings, and mankind’s ways of processing the material, which she calls “the thinking hand”. The collection of processed materials and tools falls into three categories: Stone and Wood, Earth, and Ferrocement and Concrete. Within these categories 13 models (1:50) of her projects are presented. A number of details of the projects are shown by a series of models in 1:5 specifying their specific tectonics. These models are built of among other things thousands of hand-made Indian bricks in mini-format.

On the balcony between the two large rooms of the exhibition, you will find a 1:1 construction of Kundoo’s single cell that forms the basis of her Co-housing project envisaged for Auroville. This is based on her past research of the Full Fill Home prototype, conceived keeping the rapid urbanization and resulting housing shortage in India in mind. A single house can be built in seven days by the homeowner-to-be using simple crates cast in ferrocement – a material Kundoo has studied and researched. Built-in storage systems reduce the need for furniture, and the system can be used as a permanent or temporary home and be built anywhere in the world with a minimum of building experience.

The second main theme of the exhibition, CO-CREATION, presents Kundoo’s latest and so far biggest project – the town and housing development project Line of Goodwill for the city of Auroville. The project not only builds further on original concepts for the city from 1968, but also on the spirit of Auroville, that is the tradition of cooperation across types of expertise. Line of Goodwill has arisen in a collaboration with climate engineers from among others the German firms Transsolar, Amour Group and Bau Kunst Erfinden, and with students from three schools of architecture – The School of Architecture of the Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen, the Yale School of Architecture in New Haven and the Fachhochschule in Potsdam.

A model (1:50) of the 240,000 m2 project is shown in the exhibition, and part of the facade is built up in 1:1 as an example of Kundoo’s work with the development of intelligent facades. Kundoo thinks sustainably, socially, economically and environmentally, and the facades must all save or generate energy while providing climatic comfort. She works with three facade elements: Green Screens, which through the use of plants as part of the facade will bring the residents closer to nature, provide urban farming opportunities and create a better climate; Urban Surplus Recycled, where remains from denim factories in India are converted into facade cladding; and finally Energy Harvesting, where she collaborates with climate engineers on brand new energy-generating facade strategies.

Anupama Kundoo
Anupama Kundoo was born in Pune in India in 1967, graduated as an architect at the Sir JJ College of Architecture, University of Mumbai in 1989. In 2008, she took her PhD from TU Berlin with the research project BUILDING WITH FIRE - Baked in-situ Mud Houses of India: Evolution and Analysis of Ray Meeker’s Experiments. It is characteristic of her work that the knowledge she acquires at the university and in the field is passed on to the younger generation of architects through continuous training and workshops associated with the projects she is working on.

Kundoo’s buildings are primarily situated in India, and she has also worked, done research and taught in a number of different contexts around the world: Yale University, New Haven; AA School of Architecture, London; Parsons New School of Design, New York; Cornell University, Ithaca, University of Queensland, Brisbane; IUAV Venice; IE, Madrid and ETSAB, Barcelona. Currently she is among other things a professor at Fachhochschule Potsdam while she lives and has her studio in Berlin.

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