March 4, 2021-March 5, 2021
Minnette De Silva: Constructive Dialogues
Minnette De Silva’s unique position in the mid-20th century exemplifies cultural and local specificity in dialogue with a global modern movement. Her architectural practice was expressive of the materials, techniques, and history of her native Sri Lanka as well as her participation in a network of international architects and designers. As a result, De Silva’s legacy traces the complex and multi-directional vectors of modernity.
The conversation between her built work, dedication to the production of her own archive and commitment to the inclusion of traditional forms of labor, present De Silva as a leader in design. With most of her buildings lost to time and neglect, her architecture survives primarily through images and words. Denying reductive dichotomies of International Style and vernacular, client and architect, object and archive, her work instead reveals nuances in architectural practice that continue to be relevant today.
This year’s Womxn in Design and Architecture conference expands the geographical focus of architectural practice by taking De Silva’s work as a point of departure. In order to root its narrative in a wider context, we pose the question, how might this work move contemporary theory and practice toward productive dialogues?
The WDA conference is made possible by the Jean Labatut Memorial Lecture Fund. The School of Architecture, Princeton University, is registered with the AIA Continuing Education System (AIA/CES) and is committed to developing quality learning activities in accordance with the AIA/CES criteria.
Twenty-two women architects and designers you should know. Dezeen’s article featured Minnette De Silva, in addition to 2021 speaker Anupama Kundoo, and Anne Tyng. 3/8/21.
Minnette de Silva: The story of an “Asian Woman Architect” Keynote speaker Anooradha Iyer Siddiqi interviewed in Architectural Record, plus mention of the 2021 WDA conference. 3/24/2021.
Gillian Darley Architectural Historian + Author Gillian Darley is a widely published independent architectural historian, a biographer, broadcaster and writer/journalist. She contributed a chapter, “A Collection of Scimitar Minds,” to AA Women in Architecture 1917-2017. She is a dissertation supervisor on the NYU London MA course in Historical and Sustainable Architecture and has been President of the Twentieth Century Society since 2014.
Ashley de Vos
Ashley de Vos Architect, Landscape Architect + Conservation, ADV Consultants Biography forthcoming.
Curt Gambetta PhD Candidate, History and Theory of Architecture & Urbanism, Princeton SoA Curt Gambetta is a Ph.D. candidate in the History and Theory of Architecture and Urbanism at Princeton and is co-editor of Attention Audio Journal, a web-based architecture journal. Prior to joining the Ph.D. program at Princeton, he was the Peter Reyner Banham Fellow at University at Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning (2011-2012) and a teaching fellow at Woodbury University School of Architecture in Los Angeles (2012-2013). During the 2000’s, he was a resident of the Sarai program of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) in Delhi, India (2002-03 and 2004-05), where he was involved in a number of initiatives in new media, including moderation of the Urban Study Group e-list, coordination of a digital archive of historical documents about urbanism in South Asia, and other projects. His recent publications include essays in Discourse (PUP, 2020), Interwoven (2017 and 2019), ARPA (2016) and Scapegoat (2011 and 2017). In 2012, he co-edited an issue of the Indian journal Seminar, Streetscapes: The Future of the Street, which drew from a symposium organized in collaboration with a group of scholars at the National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS) in Bangalore.
Shoshana Goldstein PhD, 2020-21 Princeton Mellon / Princeton Institute for International & Regional Studies Fellow Shoshana Goldstein is a 2020-21 Princeton Mellon / Princeton Institute for International & Regional Studies Fellow, jointly appointed with the M.S. Chadha Center for Global India. Her research explores histories of urban planning, governance, and placemaking in Northern India, specifically questions surrounding the impacts of real estate development, public-private partnerships, environmental activism, and internal migration on rural-urban transitions. Goldstein holds a Ph.D. in city and regional planning from Cornell and an M.A. in international affairs from The New School, with a focus on the comparative urban development experiences of India and China.
Tariq Jazeel PhD, Professor, Human Geography at University College London, UK Tariq Jazeel is Professor of Human Geography at University College London in the UK. He works at the intersections of critical geography, South Asian studies and postcolonial and critical theory. In broad terms, his research explores the spatial constitutions of nation, identity and belonging in South Asian contexts, especially in Sri Lanka, as well as the challenges of engaging non-western contexts. His published work has focused on aesthetic and environmental formations and their relationships to the politics of Sri Lankan nationhood, especially in relation to the country’s rich recent history of national emparkment and its tropical architecture. He is the author of Postcolonialism (2019) and Sacred Modernity (2013), and coeditor of Spatializing Politics (2009, with Cathrine Brun) and Subaltern Geographies (2019, with Steve Legg), and an Editor of the journal Environment and Planning D: Society and Space.
Anupama Kundoo PhD, Principal, Anupama Kundoo Architects; Professor, Potsdam School of Architecture, Germany Anupama Kundoo graduated from University of Mumbai in 1989 and received her Ph.D. degree from the TU Berlin in 2008. Her research-oriented practice has generated people centric architecture based on spatial and material research for low environmental impact while being socio-economically beneficial. Her body of works is currently exhibited as a solo show “Taking Time” at Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark till 16 May 2021. She has taught Architecture and Urban Management at various international universities strengthening her expertise in rapid urbanization and climate change related development issues, and was the Davenport Visiting Professor at Yale University in Spring 2020. She is currently Professor at Potsdam School of Architecture, Germany.
David Robson Architectural Historian + Author David Robson graduated from The Bartlett School of Architecture in 1968, then spent two years as a lecturer in the newly created School of Architecture in the University of Colombo. During this time he met Minnette De Silva and persuaded her to attend student presentations in the School. In 1979, he returned to Sri Lanka as an adviser on the Government’s “Hundred Thousand Houses Programme” and rented a house in Colombo that Minnette had designed. He later became Professor of Architecture in the University of Brighton and a visiting professor in the National University of Singapore. He has written a number of books about architecture in Sri Lanka including Bawa: The Complete Works (T&H 2002), Beyond Bawa (T&H 2007), Anjalendran – Architect of Sri Lanka (Periplus/Tuttle 2009) and The Architectural Heritage of Sri Lanka (Talisman/Laurence King 2016). He is currently preparing a monograph on architect John Leopld Denman.
D. Raja Segar
D. Raja Segar Artist, Sculptor + Client Biography forthcoming.
Yasmin Shariff Director, Dennis Sharp Architects Yasmin Shariff moved from Nairobi, Kenya to London to train as an architect at the AA, SOAS and the Bartlett (UCL). She is director of Dennis Sharp Architects, a practice that combines research, publishing and architecture. Yasmin devised the multivalent project to celebrate AA women – AA-XX and contributed an article in the Architects Journal on Minnette and other unknown AA women. Yasmin and her partner, Dennis Sharp, knew Minnette well and visited her in Sri Lanka to discuss the possibilities of writing a biography. This visit was the catalyst for her book Minnette de Silva The Life of an Asian Woman Architect. Yasmin’s current research includes East African Modernism (including the work of Amyas Connell) and designing for older women and people of color.
Shivani Shedde PhD Candidate, History and Theory of Architecture, Princeton SoA Shivani Shedde is an architect and doctoral student in the History and Theory of Architecture at the Princeton University. Her work addresses patterns of architectural production that induce both, environmental and social change, primarily in South Asia. Her research interests include the spatial imperatives of colonial mapping, visualization, and governance techniques; the politics of extraction and its relationship with architectural materials; as well as the effects of mass decolonization in the 1960s—in particular, the various south-to-south solidarity movements—that helped shape new discourses surrounding architecture and the environment. Prior to joining Princeton, Shivani was an instructor at the Yale School of Architecture where she facilitated lecture courses in Architecture and Urban Design, and has taught studio courses at the Kamla Raheja Vidyanidhi School of Architecture in Mumbai. She holds a Master’s degree from the Yale School of Architecture (2016), and a Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Mumbai (2012).
Anooradha Iyer Siddiqi
Anooradha Iyer Siddiqi PhD, Assistant Professor, Barnard College + Columbia University Department of Architecture; Affiliated Faculty, Barnard College Department of Art History, and Columbia University Institute of Comparative Literature and Society, Institute of African Studies, and South Asia Institute Anooradha Iyer Siddiqi (she/her) specializes in histories of architecture, modernity, and migration, centering African and South Asian questions of historicity and archives, heritage politics, and feminist and colonial practices. Her scholarship attempts to expand histories of marginalized people and figures and promote practices of collaboration and support, especially to foreground the lives and narratives of communities that have been systematically excluded or silenced. Thinking through objects, buildings, and landscapes, her work examines intellectual histories and diverse forms of esthetic practice and cultural production. She directs the Columbia University Center for the Study of Social Difference working group Insurgent Domesticities, co-chairs the Columbia University Seminar Studies in Contemporary Africa, and teaches the course “Colonial Practices” in conjunction with the GoDown Arts Centre in Nairobi. Professor Siddiqi is the convenor and faculty advisor of the web/podcast series, Building Solidarities: Racial Justice in the Built Environment. She serves on the board of the Society of Architectural Historians and its IDEAS Committee. Professor Siddiqi’s publications include her book manuscripts Architecture of Migration: The Dadaab Refugee Camps and Humanitarian Settlement and Minnette de Silva and a Modern Architecture of the Past, among her many writings featured in various academic journals and online platforms. She holds a Ph.D. in the History of Art and Archaeology, and a Master of Architecture degree and professional license, and practiced architecture in Bangalore, Philadelphia, and New York.
Brinda Somaya Principal Architect, Somaya & Kalappa Consultants; A. D. White Professor-at-Large, Cornell University Brinda Somaya is an architect and urban conservationist. Upon completion of her Bachelor of Architecture from Mumbai University and her Master of Arts from Smith College in Northampton, MA, she started her firm Somaya and Kalappa Consultants (SNK) in 1978 in Mumbai, India. For over four decades she has merged architecture, conservation and social equity in projects ranging from institutional campuses and rehabilitation of an earthquake-torn village to the restoration of an 18th-century cathedral, showing that progress and history need not be at odds. Her philosophy: “the Architect’s role is that of guardian – hers is the conscience of the built and un-built environment.” This belief underlines her work that spans large corporate, industrial and institutional campuses and extends to public spaces, which she has rebuilt and sometimes reinvented as pavements, parks and plazas. Over the years, she has won numerous international and national awards. SNK has recently won the “UNESCO Asia – Pacific award for Cultural Heritage Conservation”, for the “Restoration and Upgradation” of the historic Louis Kahn Buildings of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A). With MAPIN Publishing and the HECAR Foundation she has recently released Brinda Somaya – Works & Continuities, which covers four decades of her practice.
11:00 PM UK
4:30 AM LKA
Dean Mónica Ponce de León
Anooradha Iyer Siddiqi PhD, Assistant Professor, Barnard College + Columbia University Department of Architecture; Affiliated Faculty, Barnard College Department of Art History, and Columbia University Institute of Comparative Literature and Society, Institute of African Studies, and South Asia Institute
Larissa Guimarães + Sonia Sobrino Ralston, WDA Members
Luis Fernando Muñoz, WDA Member
2:00 PM UK
7:30 PM LKA
Welcome + Introduction
Dean Mónica Ponce de León
WDA Introduction | Mission + Members
Introduction to Constructing Memories Presenters
Elena M’Bouroukounda, Shoshana Torn, + Priscilla Zhang; WDA Members
2:15 PM UK
7:45 PM LKA
Ashley de Vos, Architect, Landscape Architect + Conservation, ADV Consultants
D. Raja Segar, Artist + Client
Brinda Somaya, Principal Architect, Somaya & Kalappa Consultants; A. D. White Professor-at-Large, Cornell University
David Robson, Architectural Historian + Author
Discussion + Q&A
Moderated by Shivani Shedde, PhD Candidate, History and Theory of Architecture, Princeton SoA
5:00 PM UK
Introduction to Presenters
Patty Hazle + Jacqueline Mix, WDA Members
Tariq Jazeel PhD, Professor, Human Geography at University College London, UK
Gillian Darley, Architectural Historian + Author
Discussion + Q&A
Moderated by Shoshana Goldstein PhD, 2020-21 Princeton Mellon / Princeton Institute for International & Regional Studies Fellow and M.S. Chadha Center for Global India
7:00 PM UK
12:30 AM LKA
Introduction to Presenters
Lisa Ramsburg + Laura Fegely, WDA Members
Yasmin Shariff, Director, Dennis Sharp Architects
Anupama Kundoo PhD, Principal, Anupama Kundoo Architects; Professor, Potsdam School of Architecture, Germany
Discussion + Q&A
Moderated by Curt Gambetta, PhD Candidate, History and Theory of Architecture & Urbanism, Princeton SoA
9:00 PM UK
2:30 AM LKA