The Birla White Yuvaratna Awards

1st July, 2012

The Birla White Yuvaratna Awards were instituted in 2004 to recognise and reward budding talent in the field of architectural design. The awards are an initiative to bring innovative design concepts to light, so that they can be an inspiration for others to think beyond.

This year's Birla White Yuvaratna Awards called for design entries in three categories — creation of murals / items using Levelplast, creation of designs / textures for walls using Textura and creation of a symbolic mural.

Smt. Rajashree Birla and Shri D.R. Dhariwal releasing the desktop calendar for the year 2007.

This year a total of 1,532 entries from 961 studentsacross 45 colleges were received. Forty four buddingdesigners emerged as winners. The jury for the contestcomprised of four eminent and internationally renownedarchitects namely Christopher Beninger, Raja Aederi,Kamal Malik and D.M. Upasani.

In the Levelplast category, two all-India prizes and five state level prizes were awarded. In the Textura category, there were two all-India prizes and 15 first and second prizes at the state level. In the symbolic creation category, two all-India prizes were awarded.

The winners of the prestigious competition were declared and felicitated on 24 January 2007 by Mrs. Rajashree Birla, Director, Aditya Birla Group of Companies and Chairperson, Aditya Birla Centre for Community Initiatives and Rural Development.

The following is the text of the speech delivered by Mrs. Birla.

“I have had the privilege of being associated with these Awards for the last three years and I must say that the response of the community of budding architects has been gaining momentum. From just 657 entries in 2004 to 1532 entries this year, from 14 colleges in 2004 to 45 colleges today and beginning with just seven states, today there are 15 participating states. This is indeed both encouraging and impressive. Let me therefore first compliment our Birla White Cement team for this initiative and for encouraging students to rise to their creative potential. Second, let me congratulate all the winners. Here is wishing you all the very best of creativity as you climb up the architectural ladder.

"Whilethe contest has been growing from strength to strength,I find the creativity of these budding architectsis also on the rise. Every year I see better andbetter designs. Of course this year I noticed thatyou all have worked on different mediums such asTextura and Levelplast Birla White. I have beenquite fascinated by your designs. They are different.The prize of winning entries have all highlightedunusual motifs — a three dimensional plate,raised floral design, football on a wall, abstractions— men ad women, animals as well as geometricalpatterns.

Architect Kamal Malik presenting the award to the winner

"Evenas I witness designs changing year after year, Ifind architecture itself evolving. I would liketo share some of my thoughts on this. When I lookback and reminisce about some of the architecturalwonders of the past, still very appealing, I thinkof the Victorian and Edwardian structures acrossour country. They are awesome and inspiring.

"Take Mumbai itself — where you have quite a few of the oriental flourishes such as the Victoria Terminus and the Bombay Municipal building. These are both architectural structures of the 1880s, done by the architect F.W. Stevens. Then the city’s architectural monuments — the Prince of Wales Museum and the beautiful Gateway of India.

"Go down to the East, and you see the Victoria Memorial Hall in Kolkata which has been designed by William Emerson. I find it so defiantly classical in design, vaguely mirroring the Taj Mahal. Overall, it is a splendid monument.

"Down South, in Chennai, you have the Presidency College, conceptualised by Robert Chishlom. He, as perhaps many senior architect fraternity present here may be aware, came to teach art in Calcutta. He later headed the Industrial School of Art in Chennai. He rose to become the Principal of the Government College of Arts & Crafts in Chennai. He designed the Presidency College, Madras, when he won the competition to do so. He also designed the Senate House.

"LaterChishlom and Henry Irwin built a skyline for Madras–; that was brilliantly elegant. Towers, domes,arches, polished and unpolished granite work fromSouth India, pillars from every Greek school, carvedarches from Islamic architecture — characterisedarchitecture in Madras.

"Up North, it has been very much the same story. Beautiful pre-modern structures including bungalows dot its prime areas.

Architect Raja Aederi presenting the award to the winner

"Today,I believe, Indian architecture is passing througha transitional phase. Even as the monuments of thepast are held in awe, the buildings of the pastseem redundant. The new buzz on the block is “progressiveand modern”, not necessarily authenticallyIndian.

"We stand on the cusp of a dynamic period of change for India’s cities. There is a distinct shift from traditional architecture to modern western architecture where you have dizzying skyscrapers.

"The concept of “green buildings” or eco-friendly structures is also gaining ground. Electronic monitoring of carbon-dioxide levels is becoming popular. Abundant natural light and water harvesting is becoming a decisive force in construction. Earth-friendly designs are coming in. Glass-glazing, aluminium cladding and the use of glass reinforced cement have altered the form of buildings.

"Ihave recently seen a multi-storied building in Mumbaistanding on 100 ft. stilts and soaring into thesky. Obviously the objective of such structuresis to give a sense of expanse and spaces to reflect.At the same time the architecture is minimalist,even though there is exuberance in the use of buildingtechniques, angles and some stylistic reference,it is very different and eclectic in a manner ofsorts. I do believe, this will increasingly be thetrend of times we live in.

"And we look upto budding architects and senior fraternity, to bring in even more refreshing landscapes and skylines first to our city and then all over our country.”