The man who is renowned for his unconventional use of building materials and methods, talks to us about his architectural triumphs
Sunlight streams over us uninterrupted while I sit on a cane chair adjoining the rustic charpoy seating the tall-and-taut frame of Bijoy Jain. The pebble-and-brick flooring pricks my unclad feet into a consciousness that we are outside even as we sit inside the Byculla home of the Indian architect. Until not so long ago, Alibaug, a once-verdant seaside town whose name has traversed the oceans to sit lightly on the tongues of aspiring architects who vie for internships at his Studio Mumbai, had become synonymous with Jain — since it was his home and office for over a decade. For now, though, he is back in the city of his childhood that gave his studio its name.
He is not just another brick in the wall, and with this move, the homing pigeon has broken out of the pigeonhole yet again — proving that nothing can contain an unfettered imagination that soars beyond the out of the box. He may be known for uprooting himself from the city to plant his studio in a remote location and yet run a flourishing practice. But that scarcely stopped him from returning to his roots when he felt the urge to do so.
Now engaged in making space for himself, his new partner and his studio in the city, he reflects that his earlier decision to move to Alibaug had stemmed from a desire to experience another way of living, a different quality of life. “I had come back from the US, and my partner…my wife at that time…had two dogs. I was not anti-city, but it was a way to be connected with what I was doing. It enables you to look at things a little more broadly. For me, what was interesting was to have a different viewing lens for the same place. I grew up in Bombay and it will always be a part of my blood. You get kind of straitjacketed if you remain in one place.”
Straitjacketed is certainly not a term that one could apply to this master architect. Though he has been teaching abroad for some years now, he has decided not to teach for the next year and a half — as he would like to make time and space for himself. But Jain has a message for the next generation: do not fear trying. It’s worth giving something a chance.