Architecture as a socio-cultural practice for sustainability
The first SHARE International Architecture and Engineering Forum edition in Bucharest is scheduled for 21-22 March 2017. Here we will have the honor to host Mrs. Sheila Sri Prakash as the special guest of the event.
One of the first Indian females to establish her own practice Shilpa Architects in Chennai in 1979, she is now a world-renowned personality, a global leader in sustainability in architecture promoting an environmental-friendly design and sociologically sensitive planning.
Having the rich Indian context as her background, she has founded the field of Spaciology researching how space design and planning influences society, thus creating a link between how we understand and practice architecture and how we develop as human beings in a global world. During her membership in the Global Agenda Council for Design Innovation at the World Economic Forum, she formulated the Reciprocal Design Index – a sustainability matrix linking the parameters and metrics of sustainable design in terms of environmental, sociologic and economic impact. Counterpointing this achievement, she launched the Reciprocity Wave – an artistic movement which draws attention to urgent social and environmental issues – at public places in Chennai (Nageswara Rao Park) and Banglaore (Cubbon Park).
“It’s our effort to encourage young people to embrace a sustainable behaviour through the medium of art, design and sculpture. They created art works and sculptures from trash cans, bottles and dry leaves. The exercise was such an eye-opener to the visitors at the park. More such events are being planned.”
Her experience for 35 years in design pays off in The Muse, the global design studio of her firm Shilpa Architects Planners Designers. “Space can make or mar the quality of life. Indo-centric design evolves from an empirical understanding of our culture, family values and lifestyle,” she says. “Sensitivity to local ethos is crucial in designing spaces that people respond to. Vernacular building techniques, local materials and the work of traditional skilled artisans need to be inventively integrated with modern design and construction technology without making a building look like a pastiche of the past.”
She has been invited as a keynote speaker at Bloomberg’s Brainstorm Green Conference and Global Green Summit in Singapore, the Milan Design Summit, the Kuala Lumpur Design Forum, American Institute of Architects Tokyo Chapter, and 361 Degrees in Mumbai. Upon invitation from The Honorable Prime Minister David Cameron of the UK, she led efforts to enhance the sustainability of the Infrastructure at the 2012 London Olympics. She chaired a panel of global experts to make recommendations to the UN’s Rio+20 Summit in Brazil.
She was conferred the Honorable Architect award by The Indian Institute of Architects (IIA). She was named to the 50 most influential names in Architecture and Design in 2015 by Architectural Digest for having “built a formidable legacy” and an “inspirational practice that designs societies and not merely buildings or cities”. She has been named as one of the “100 Most Influential” people in Architecture in the World today by the Italian design journal – Il Giornale dell’Architettura (Journal of Architecture).
She has been a performing artist, bharathantyam dancer, musician, sculptor and is a passionate patron of the Arts. Dance has been instrumental in Sheila’s approach to architecture, being trained in Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi traditional indian dances and having performed them before becoming an architect. Architecture and dance are both relying on lines, rhythm and harmony within a space. “As a dancer, I was trained to imagine spaces in my mind. The rhythm and repetition of movements helps me conjure up proportions within a space. Dance helps me visualise a space before it takes tangible form.”
Sheila has a B.Arch from the Anna University School of Architecture and Planning and also attended the Executive Education Program at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design. “I take my role as an architect seriously because my thoughts and actions are bound to have a lasting impact on people, society and the planet. What I’m striving to achieve is holistic sustainability through design.”
AWARDS AND RECOGNITION
- Named to the 50 most influential names in Architecture and Design in 2015 by Architectural Digest and listed among a category of “Reinventors” for having “built a formidable legacy” and an “inspirational practice that designs societies and not merely buildings or cities”
- Named as one of the “100 Most Influential” people in Architecture in the World today by the Italian design journal – Il Giornale dell’Architettura (Journal of Architecture)
- The Culture Trip, a UK based website has named Architect Sheila as one of The 9 Best Indian Architects.
- Member of the Board of Studies in the Faculty of Architecture & Planning of Anna University, Chennai for a tenure of three years
- Member of the Network of Global Agenda Council on Design Innovation of the World Economic Forum for 2011-12. Member of The Network of Global Agenda Council on Role of Arts in Society of the World Economic Forum for 2012-13.
Sheila Sri Prakash is going to attend the SHARE Forum in Bucharest on 21-22 March 2017 as a special guest, giving her precious insight on design and planning.