“Architecture must arouse, inspire and feed the human spirit. The need is for professional concern with the environment and an improved quality of human life for all people.” Alongside a series of other inspiring quotes, Brinda Somaya began her seminar under the premise that, beyond building, architects must act as guardians of both the built and the natural environment.
Referencing the historical migration movement in India subsequent to its separation from Pakistan, Somaya presented the architectural history of India post-independence, and, in particular, the modernist movement, which advanced the idea that, to practice architecture in India, it was necessary to break away from the country’s colonial past. Bringing attention to the debate around such architecture’s authenticity, Somaya also noted the observable absence of women before shedding light on key female architects, such as Perin Mistri, India’s first woman architect.
Going on to briefly present the work of her own studio, Somaya and Kalappa Consultants (SNK), Somaya explored the influences and construction techniques behind her own projects, referencing her notable work in the realm of social activism as well. Noting that architecture has a profound contextual meaning, Somaya argued that, more than just buildings, cities need a sense of belonging, a sense of place and a sense of history. To this end, she insisted on the importance of bringing visibility to the work of women in architecture, as well as the urgency of addressing the issues of informal settlements, especially in the context of India, which continues to face mass movements of urban migration.
To close her seminar, Somaya claimed that sustainability must prioritise individual agency and independence. Furthermore, she concluded that any redefinition of architecture, building and materiality must be followed by careful debate, carried out, most importantly, with hope.