Emerging Woman Architect of the Year shortlist: Amritha Ballal
Amritha Ballal is founding partner of SpaceMatters in New Delhi
SpaceMatters has been recognised as one of India’s up and coming firms. In early 2012, Amritha Ballal co-founded ARCHI-lab (Action Research for Critical Habitat Innovation Laboratory), an international design and research collaboration. Her recent projects range from sociospatial mapping of urban homeless in Delhi to designing a memorial to those who died in the Bhopal gas tragedy.
Why did you become an architect?
It wasn’t a planned decision. Initially I was not sure I would pursue architecture but as an education it felt like a far more rewarding alternative to the more strictly defined, narrow focus higher education disciplines in India. It engaged with diverse subjects from technology, to art, sociology etc…
What is your design ethos?
It’s a dialogue and collaboration. Each project has its own attributes and we listen and then have something to say in return. We create together with our clients, the site, the context, the builders and other disciplines.
Which women architects inspire you?
Kazuyo Sejima, Maya Lin, Zaha Hadid, Anupama Kundoo, Didi Contractor.
What is your advice to aspiring female architects?
Do what you love, find your voice… and fight for it. Seek out inspiring, giving people, learn constantly, question status quos, be encouraging to others and, as Nora Ephron put it: ‘create some trouble on behalf of women’.
Why do women leave architecture?
The intensive nature of the practise of architecture, balancing family life and work proves to be an issue. In the context of India being a strongly patriarchal society, with little support or sensitivity at home or in the workplace especially for working mothers, it is tough going.
Place of study School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi (architecture); Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim (urban ecological planning)
Current projects The Ashoka University campus near New Delhi; a temple complex built in stone in the desert area of Rajasthan; International School of Management, Patna; INHWA Business Centre in Gurgaon; and other residential, housing and mixed land use projects. Sustainable prototypes for mountain construction, innovating on traditional building technology, in Uttarakhand; the Bhopal Gas Tragedy Memorial project, on the Union Carbide factory site
Clients Government of Madhya Pradesh; School of Planning and Architecture, New Dehli; Delhi Development Authority; Tata group; DLF; Jindal Steel Works, Norwegian Embassy, Delhi