Estrade Lifetime Achievement Award 2016 for Benny Kuriakose
This year's Estrade Real Estate Awards for Lifetime Achievement was given to me in Singapore. One can easily identify me since I was the only one without a blazer or a suit. It came as a pleasant surprise, especially since the previous years lifetime achievement award was won by the legendary architect Karan Grover. I asked the Jury why they selected me and they replied that my buildings were quite innovative and sustainable and so the majority of them favoured me.
I am not a great fan of awards. When I got my first award, the "Inside Outside Designer of the Year Award" in 2002, there were only two or three awards at the national level. But now there are over 30 awards. For the last few years, I have not applied for any awards. I had to make a short speech after receiving the award. Some glimpses from that speech are given below.
"I am greatly honoured to receive this award. I got this award which was a pleasant surprise. I thank the Estrade family for this great honour. When I started my career 32 years ago, I never imagined that I will be able to achieve anything like this. There were many people who made this journey possible. Unlike paintings and literary works, designing buildings is a collective job, although the architect is in the driver’s seat, it is the effort of many people. I would like to thank my family, especially my family, my teachers especially Laurie Baker, all my current and former colleagues, contractors, and all the craftsmen who made my buildings into a reality.
Although I have got other awards, this is special for two reasons. First, I did not apply for the award. Second, this is not for any specific project, but for all the works I have been doing for the last 32 years. Although the Lifetime achievement award is being conferred to me, my best works are yet to come and will come in the future. Design is a field where age and experience help, unlike sports. I always thought about the end-users of the project and also I tried to bring social content into my designs. My buildings have a strong traditional flavour and an Indianness in them.
I tried my best in the design of the fishermen's housing as well as in the houses of the celebrities designed. I have tried to question the kind of architecture which is commonly practised in my humble way. I assure you that I will try to achieve great quality in the projects which are yet to come. I still feel that I am a student of architecture and will be able to design more in the years to come. I know that this award will be another feather in my cap, but I would not like to be "busy and famous” by compromising creativity. I have seen that some people who have become famous and busy, have not been able to do any more good work, but I do not want to fall into that “trap”.
Once again, I would like to thank the Estrade group and the Jury for conferring this award to me."