With a record scale of females enrolling in the architecture program in the Indian schools of architecture has put the male ratio far behind. Besides, it is known to be ruled by their male counterparts where female architects are still a misfit in the industry. It is yet questionable if the number of female architecture students is higher than male architecture students, will there be equivalent female practicing architects in the country?
However, there have been exceptional women architects in Indian architecture who have broken the ice and are an inspiration to the younger generations even in the present time.
Here are some remarkable women architects in India who have achieved incredible milestones.
1. Perin Jamsetjee Mistri (1913-1989)
Perin Jamsetijee Mistri, born of a Parsi family, was an Indian architect believed to be a graduate in the course of architecture in India. With education at Croydon High School, England she later joined Sir Jamsetjee Jeejebhoy School of Art upon her return to Bombay, gaining an architecture diploma in 1936. Eventually, in 1937 she joined her father’s architectural firm, working on a bungalow for Sir Behramji Karanjia at Carmichael Road and St. Stephen’s Church.
2. Urmila Eulie Chowdhury (1923-1995)
Urmila Eulie Chowdhury, a graduate from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Architecture in 1947 is believed to be Asia’s first qualified female architect by some historians. The first Indian qualified woman architect, a teacher, and a writer from Shahjahanpur, Uttar Pradesh. She is known to have joined the team of Le Corbusier for designing of the Capital City of Chandigarh, upon her return from the United States to India. In her exceptional career, she has held a key position as the assignment of Director, School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi, Chief Architect of Haryana and Punjab has also established the Alliance Française de Chandigarh.
3. Pravina Mehta (c.1924–c.1990)
Pravina Mehta a leading architect, planner and political activist from Mumbai is a graduate from Sir J. J. College of Architecture and has worked with Charles Correa and Shirish Patel on the conceptual and proposal of the New Bombay in 1964. She had also actively worked to uplift people living in slums and developed low-cost housing for the people affected by an earthquake along with urban planning and environmental fronts. Patel House, Kahim, a weekend, and the Factory Chinchwad in Maharashtra are the notable architectural projects.
4. Delia Narayan “Didi” Contractor (1929)
Delia Narayan “Didi” Contractor is a self-taught architect inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright, who is also known for her extensive sustainable architecture works in India. With the basic principle to build along with the set landscape and with the use of natural materials like mud, stone, and bamboo as design elements. A winner of the Nari Shakti Puraskar, India’s highest civilian award for recognizing the achievements and contributions of women has founded institutes like Nishtha – Rural Health, Education and Environment Center, and the Dharmalaya Institute in Bir.
5. Brinda Somaya (1949)
Brinda Somaya is an Indian architect and urban conservationist, a graduate from Sir J. J. College of Architecture in 1971. Her design displays a blend of traditional and sustainable concepts and is a reflection of Indian ethos. Among her many achievements, one of which is the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage award for the restoration of the St. Thomas’ Cathedral in Mumbai. Being a contemporary Indian architect, Brinda Somaya has built a remarkable practice in sustainable design and construction that preserves the culture and tradition of India.
6. Shimul Javeri Kadri (1953)
Shimul Javeri Kadri, principal architect of SJK Architects, a firm based in Mumbai is known for her remarkable projects including museums, hotels, offices, industrial buildings, and educational institutions. A graduate of the Academy of Architecture, and Urban Planning at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor she has been the most influential architect and interior designer in India. She has won multiple international and national awards including the Prix Versailles Award.
7. Revathi S. Kamath (1955-2020)
Revathi S. Kamath graduated from the School of Planning and Architecture, Delhi is a pioneer of mud architecture in India. Contrary to mud, she has also designed the tallest buildings in stainless steel in India. The Akshay Pratishthan School in Delhi, Community Center at Maheshwar, and Nalin Tomar House at Hauz Khas, Delhi were her projects nominated for the Aga Khan Award.
8. Sheila Sri Prakash (1955)
Sheila Sri Prakash graduated from Anna University School of Architecture and Planning in 1973 is an Indian architect and urban designer. She is known to be the first women architect to have started and operated her architectural practice, Shilpa Architects. With over 1200 architectural projects engulfed within the imprints of culture, heritage, and use of local arts make her one of India’s leading architects and the most influential female architects in the world.
9. Chitra Vishwanath (1962)
Chitra Vishwanath, the Principal Architect and Managing Director of BIOME Environment Solutions Private Limited, is known for her designs based on ecology, water, and architecture. A graduate from the CEPT University for bachelor of architecture, she is also a diploma civil engineer from Nigeria. The design approach based on natural resources there is extensive use of mud as the primary element. She has designed projects ranging from real estate development to residences and institutes based on the principles of ecology, energy, water integration, and land use.
10. Anupama Kundoo (1967)
Anupama Kundoo, an Indian architect, graduated from Sir J. J. College of Architecture in 1989 was awarded the Vastu Shilpa Foundation Fellowship in 1996 for her thesis on “Urban Eco-Community: Design and Analysis for Sustainability”. Working as an architect in Auroville her buildings and design are known to have adapted “energy and water-efficient infrastructure” that focus on low environmental impact and uses “waste materials, unskilled labor, and local communities”.
With all these empowering women who have broken all the notions have set inspiring examples for the younger generations. Indian Women Architects, with time, have put exceptional pressure on gender equality, women being the lead in architectural practice, and have changed the narrative of women architects perceived in the architectural industry.