dreams begins responsibility"
- W. B. Yeats.
be very few countries in the world where
architects have such varied challenges as we have in
South Asia today. Our involvement ranges from
upgradation of slums to large corporate and
public buildings, from low income housing
to the restoration of magnificent
vernacular and colonial buildings.
Wonderful, exciting and fulfilling tasks
that span our careers and
take us from being hi-tech professionals
to barefoot architects.
The focus of
this exhibition is South Asia.
We have common traditions, problems and aspirations.
All of us have a multiplicity of civilizations.
In India, Bangladesh,Pakistan and Sri Lanka
there is a cultural heritage of genius and beauty.
These traditions are a source of inspiration to us
Architects as we attempt to infuse meaning into our
The contemporary architecture of India today,
is the built expression of an interaction
between a global culture and our rich past.
Hindu, Buddhist and Islamic traditions were
followed by the colonial influence and finally,
post independence, the legacies of Le
Corbusier and Louis Kahn.
In fact some might shrink from the very idea
of an 'Indian' architecture at all.
Slowly in the 70's, 80's and 90's the Indian Architect
has come into her own.
In an article
I wrote in 1991 I said that I believed
that the only way an architect can truly establish
herself in the profession is through her body of work.
This, I believed, was the only route that would
give her the visibility to confirm her competence
in the profession and could be achieved
through publications and exhibitions.
If there was not an adequate body of work
of independent women architects for an exhibition
it could be combined with the work of
women environmentalists, interior designers and
photographers amongst others. Otherwise women would
always remain the "anonymous designer".
Today, almost ten years later, I am happy to say
we women have, in reality, achieved this dream.
In fact the body of architectural work has grown
so much that it was difficult for us in 'WIA'
to decide whose work we would exhibit.
With this exhibition we hope to achieve the
public exposure that all women richly deserve.
We will now become more aware of our own achievements
and even more importantly, the work of each other.
Design standards will be elevated and our
professional image further validated.
Professional contacts and friendships
and a creative exchange of ideas,
we hope, will be a natural corollary.
Today the need is for professional concern
with the environment and an improved quality
of human life for all Indians and hence
the need to train a new kind of professional
who can intervene and be effective
within our poverty stricken framework
both in the rural and urban areas.
We now need designers who can plan, design and
implement new developments working interactively
with the community at large.
If we follow the role of the traditional architect
we cannot meet this need.
We have to go beyond buildings and work
with programmes that transform society.
Design has to be part of a peoples' process.
The Hecar Foundation hosting
'Women in Architecture - 2000 Plus' was created to
celebrate Mumbai's multifaceted historic tradition.
The foundation seeks to educate the public on architecture
including heritage and urban issues through talks,
publications, exhibitions, scholarships and seminars.
This exhibition and the document to follow were made
possible by the generous and spontaneous support of
Sir Ratan Tata Trust. The Foundation would also like
thank MK India and the Travel Corporation of India,
the other two main sponsors of this conference.
To all three of them "Women in Architecture- 2000 Plus"