Anupama Kundoo (born 1967, Pune, India) is an award-winning, internationally recognized architect known for her use of locally sourced materials and dedication to community and socioeconomic context. She studied at Sir J.J. College of Architecture, Bombay, and started her architectural practice in 1990.
As with many things, Kundoo acknowledges, construction methods sometimes create more problems than they solve. Zeroing in on this aspect, she strives to create solutions with her architecture, combining ingenuity, creativity, and sensitivity to the environment in her vastly intriguing structures.
Her innovative techniques are both economical and deal with several social issues at once – she believes that we need to learn how to build with fewer repercussions for our increasingly fragile planet and social lives.
Some of her significant works include Town Hall Complex, Volontariat Orphanage, and Residence Pierre Tran. Her ‘Full Fill Homes’ project and Wall House, especially, have received international recognition.
Full Fill Homes can be assembled on site in a mere six days, including foundation. They are made from ferrocement – a construction material consisting of metal meshes (which can be replaced by jute, bamboo or wooden meshes) and mortar or plaster.
It is earthquake-proof, economic, and does not rot or blow down in storms. Given Kundoo’s architectural style, this material is particularly useful given the lack of need for framework and relatively low weight.
Modular ferrocement blocks are stacked up to form walls and furniture, which means that they can be used to create houses in myriad shapes and sizes. The voids inside the blocks accommodate the storage needs of the resident, including books, clothes, and even the kitchen sink, so that much furniture becomes redundant, saving space and money.
The prototype was created in Auroville and installed in Chennai at the 57th Annual National Association of Students of Architecture at MIDAS, for testing in full-scale.
Wall House, on the other hand, is her residence, situated outside the planned city limits of Auroville, India, and informed her other projects. It uses hybrid technologies that ‘focus on new ways of using age-old local materials that combine hand skills and local craft traditions alongside knowledge-based scientific systems’.
She utilized local materials in inventive ways, bearing in mind rapid urbanization and the global shortage of resources. The structure is an example of contemporary architecture that has a low impact on the environment whilst solving socio-economic needs.
Kundoo’s style, which she passes on via her teaching both in her home country and abroad, is highly relevant in today’s rapidly changing world.
When asked about methods of training students of architecture, she said that she does not see universities as ‘bubbles’ wherein people lose contact with societal challenges. She exposes her students to such challenges at Camilo José Cela University in Madrid throughout the design education process, with ‘real materials, real scale, real place, and real people’.
She has written extensively about development issues pertaining to rapid urbanization and other topics. Her essays and articles have been included in several books, including but not limited to Vernacular Traditions: Contemporary Architecture, Inclusive Urbanization: Rethinking Policy, Practice and Research in the Age of Climate Change, Arquitectura Necesaria, and the Sustainable Building Design Manual Volumes 1 and 2.