Feminist Architectures

In fall 2000, whilst still an undergraduate student of architecture, I interned at Jain Associates, an architectural design and heritage conservation firm in Ahmedabad (India) led by Professors Minakshi Jain and Kulbhushan Jain. Specifically, I worked on the rehabilitation of Nagaur Ahhichatragarh Fort near Jodhpur, Rajasthan. Over the course of a full semester, I shared voice with a team of hydrologists, field archaeologists, and on-site architects in locating the buried and overlooked elements of the fort’s intricate water system, dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries. I translated this work into a series of analytical drawings of contributing value to the fort’s conservation and interpretive efforts. In my role as an intern, I also shared the responsibility of facilitating workshops for children and youth from the area to understand their engagements with this history and place. This pedagogy activity led us to identify programs that could support the community and cultural stewardship efforts in place.

The final phases of the project led by Professor Minakshi Jain were completed between 2007 and 2009. The project was recognized with the UNESCO Asia Pacific Award for Excellence in Conservation and Cultural Heritage in 2002 and shortlisted for the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2013. My field-centered internship was my introduction to both collaborative and cross-disciplinary approaches within architecture. This experience made apparent the feminist practice of shared authorship, transparency, and mutually empowering cultural work in and through Professor Jain’s expertise. It also made me aware of the diverse ways in which architecture and public history could engage both scholarly and local knowledge to make a difference.

Further Reading:

+ Jain, Minakshi, Kulbhushan Jain, and Meghal Arya. Architecture of a Royal Camp: The Retrieved Fort of Nagaur. Ahmedabad: AAdi Centre, 2009.

+ “Chapter Eight: Minakshi Jain and Projects” in Desai, Madhavi. Women Architects and Modernism in India: Narratives and Contemporary Practices. Routledge, 2017, pp. 85-96.