The "nomadic" Indian architect was commended for eliciting an "energy, creativity and willingness to take risks while achieving sustainable buildings that exist harmoniously within the landscapes and ecologies in which they are erected."
Wallmakers beat out three other emerging practices to receive a £10,000 prize. Since 2007, their work has been at the leading edge of carbon offsetting in design and construction, typically working with a palette of locally-sourced and recycled products to deliver community-oriented projects such as the St. George Orthodox Church at Mattancherry or the IHA residences in Mananthala. The jury cited each project’s use of either upcycled or rammed earth materials in their construction, applauding the designer's ability to "create an original work of contemporary architecture" while "maintaining a balance between innovative and utilitarian design."
"Wallmakers’ work engages with issues raised by the climate emergency with a creative energy and urgency that will inspire architects to reconsider the impact of their work in relation to ecology and the consumer economy," Jury chair Farshid Moussavi said of this year's winner. "Vinu Daniel began work at Wallmakers after coming to a point where he had all but rejected architectural practice as it was being taught. The jury was impressed by Vinu’s willingness to improvise and take the risky route of exploring unprecedented interventions, as much as his insistence treading lightly on the planet. There is a strong sense that this is an architect who is just getting going and we will all follow Wallmakers’ career with the keenest interest."
Daniel joins 2020 winner BCKJ Architects, 2019 winner Boonserm Premthada, and Iranian architect Alireza Taghaboni as the fourth winner of the Dorfman Award. This year's jury included Aga Khan Award Director Farrokh Derakhshani, artist Cornelia Parker, Peter St. John, ICA Philadelphia Director Zoë Ryan, and the Pulitzer-winning author Hisham Matar.
"Winning was surreal but it really means that institutions like the Royal Academy are evidently promoting the unconventional and the alternate, especially since all the finalists stray away from conventional approaches," Daniel said. "The award truly indicates that the world has taken a pause from fast development and destruction to look in a new direction. I hope this encourages other institutions to promote the work of the thousands of young artists and architects who struggle daily to promote their cause."
Learn more about this year's winner and 2022 Royal Academy Dorfman Award runners-up here.
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