February 5-18, 2001

Building Her Vision

Gender was high on the agenda at Mumbai's National Gallery of Modern Art when noted film-maker Shyam Benegal released An Emancipated Place, an innovative book showcasing the work of 26 of the subcontinent's most creative women architects. This seriously sumptuous book, conceptualised by Brinda Somaya and Urvashi Mehta, edited by Sean Mohaney and designed by Gita Simoes, is published by the Hecar Foundation - set up to focus public awareness on architectural issues, "We don't believe that architects should be prima donnas; the aim of the book is to underscore environmental responsibility and client participation," says Brinda Somaya.
From large corporate and public buildings to low-income housing, from urban planning to heritage conservation, their designs integrate the hi-tech professional with the 'barefoot architect'. Certainly, the range of projects deserves a wider recognition. Who would have thought that women architects have designed the India Habitat Centre in New Delhi; the 850-bed Asvini Naval Hospital in Mumbai; the Maharaja of Mewar's luxury resort hotel near kumbhalgarh; the Brady Gladys Plaza in Mumbai's upcoming Lower Parel; an ingeniously fired mud house on Auroville; integrated city development plans for Dhaka; the conservation of the massive Nagaur Fort for the Mehrangarh Museum Trust, Jodhpur' self-help finance and design schemes for over 20 Bangalore slum communities and heritage conservation for innumerable precincts in Karachi and Mumbai.

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