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Brinda Somaya

BRINDA SOMAYA (2017-2023)—is an internationally recognized Mumbai-based architect, planner, educator, preservationist, and community activist. Her outstanding reputation and influence on architectural education and practice in emerging countries is well established. She is the principal architect and managing director of Somaya and Kalappa Consultants (SNK), which offers innovative design, expertise and practical solutions, while keeping in mind the social, economic, environmental and aesthetic issues involved. Somaya’s projects typically embody a knowledge of applicable construction techniques that service the conservation of materials and resources but her approach is informed also through considering local circumstances and cultural contexts inextricably tied to issues of social equity. Engaging a participatory design ethos, Somaya embodies an alternative practice in which the architect functions as facilitator, professional advisor and community organizer. She is a Founder Trustee of the HECAR Foundation, which is dedicated to heritage, education, conservation, architecture and restoration, which sponsored the first conference and a ground-breaking exhibition “Women in Architecture” for South Asia in 2000. Professor Somaya is the Chairperson of the Board of Governors, School of Planning and Architecture, Vijayawada – 2016, an Institute of National Importance. She was recently awarded the international competition with the delicate and highly anticipated restoration of the Indian Institute of Management, Louis Kahn’s modern masterpiece in Ahmedabad.

Professor Somaya is a fellow of both the Indian Institute of Architects and Indian Institute of Engineers. She was honored as a distinguished professor by the Indian Education Society’s College of Architecture in Mumbai in 2015. The year prior she became the first woman to win the Baburao Mhatre Gold Medal from the Indian Institute of Architects for Lifetime Achievement. Additionally, she won the 2011 international honourable mention from SEED (Social Economic Environmental Design) Network and was the first woman awarded the Wienerberger Golden Architect Award for lifetime achievement in 2007. In 2004, she was the recipient of UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage award for the restoration of Mumbai’s 18th-century landmark St. Thomas’ Cathedral, and in 2013 she was chosen as one of the 100 Global Public Interest Design persons working at the intersection of design and service globally. Professor Somaya completed her Master of Arts degree from Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts after graduating from the Sir J.J. College of Architecture in Mumbai, India. In May 2012, she was the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate from her alma mater, Smith College.

Her summary of her philosophy: ‘the Architect’s role is that of guardian—hers is the conscience of the built and un-built environment.’

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