The Annual International Berkeley Undergraduate Prize for Architectural Design Excellence 2020
Berkeley Prize 2020

Nipun Prabhakar

2014 Essay Prize Winner - Second Place

Country of Origin: India
Country of Study: India
Current Country: India

Degrees: Bachelor of Architecture (2016)


Having a strong interest in the social art of architecture lead us to write the essay which won the award. I did my internship in a grassroots organisation, Hunnarshala. There, I worked in a post-riot rehabilitation project in Muzaffarnagar with the people who were internally displaced. We were helping them build their houses. I took the same topic for my thesis and came out with a framework based on architectural interpretations of Gandhi’s ideas linked with Alexander's pattern language, translated into the design of houses for the Muzaffarnagar project. The Thesis/graduation project won recognition and awards around the world.

After graduating, I went on to explore social activism and through a scholarship, went on to join a social movement for the right to accountability in India. There, I learned how big-scale social movements are made, how the protests are organised, how people are mobilized and more than anything, how to raise voice against the unjust.  After the scholarship, I was invited to coordinate a photo exhibition on the Pastoral communities of India that raised many important issues and concerns. 

In January 2017, I started working in Nepal as a consultant architect for Hunnarshala. We worked with the Tibetan refugee nuns, making their meditation houses which fell during the earthquake of 2015. My past experience helped me make relations with the people in remote regions. After the project was finished, I was invited to work in Kathmandu on post-earthquake rehabilitation where Hunnarshala is working with a local organisation, Lumanti. I am currently working there, helping people with designing and building earthquake safe houses. On a parallel line, I also have a strong interest in Photojournalism.  As a result, I am also professionally documenting buildings and social architecture projects.

Sketch Section of Buddhi Bahadur's house that I designed in Siddhipur, Karhmandu valley, Nepal.

Behind me is the nunnery which was rebuilt after the earthquake of 2015. Photo by Tanvi Choudhary

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