Anupama Kundoo Atelier’s work begins with and remains close to the deep human need for purpose, refuge, and social engagement. It speaks through details that foster intimacy and variety, sensory and spatial. It is where makers engage with hand and mind to produce objects they are proud of, where they transform simple materials with care and intelligence into purposeful structures, where they are challenged to do more with less, and where they routinely exceed all expectations including their own.
Kundoo’s work is about the innovation and socio-economic abundance that results from research and investment in materials and building techniques. The act of building produces knowledge just as much as the resulting knowledge produces buildings. Each lesson learned and each incremental improvement drives micro-decisions that, over time, produce the disproportionate and cumulative increases that we call abundance.
The future is unknowable, human needs change, and the facts on the ground rarely cooperate with intentions on paper. For these reasons, I prefer fluidity and imprecision over prescriptive purity. Makers and users are invited to adapt creatively in service of themselves and their communities.
Chicago Cultural Center
78 East Washington Street, Chicago, IL
The Chicago Cultural Center serves as one of the main exhibition venue sites for CAB 5, featuring projects from more than 80 participants from ten countries.
Opened in 1897, the Chicago Cultural Center is a Chicago landmark building operated by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and is home to free cultural exhibits and programming year-round.
Building with Fire: Volontariat Homes for Homeless Children, Pondicherry, India, 2008
Building with Fire relies on the pioneering work of ceramist Ray Meeker to produce low-cost housing. Meeker’s technique involves constructing mud forms, then firing them in-situ to convert them into strong, water resistant ceramic houses. In principle, the houses first act as kilns. They are filled with other unfired clay objects and fired for three to four days. The excess heat from the firing transforms the raw material of the house into water-resistant brick. This technology is labor-intensive but requires few purchased materials. Thus, the house is a producer—rather than consumer—of both sustainable building materials and local economic investment.
The housing units take the form of an inverted catenary dome, which provides maximum structural stability before, during, and after firing. Architect Anupama Kundoo and her team recycle urban waste wherever possible to augment Meeker’s technique: bicycle wheels are used as formwork for windows and later as window grills; glass bottles act as structural units for masonry in toilet areas; chai glasses finish the openings at the top of the dome. Between the in-situ process and the use of materials, this project rethinks affordability in light of sustainability and attempts to bring the production of housing back to the people.
In collaboration with Ray Meeker, M. Vinayagam.
Special thanks to Madame De Blick, NGO Volontariat.