The HECAR Foundation is Organizing the “Women in Design 2020+

Women in Design 2020+ International Conference
Announces Their Event Schedule

by Shrutee K/DNS 

Mumbai, 26th December 2019: The HECAR Foundation is organizing the “Women in Design 2020+ International Conference with leading architects, urban conservationists, urban planners and designers of multiple and diverse disciplines from India and the World. The conference is scheduled to be held on 8th, 9th and 10th January, 2020 at the Nehru Centre Auditorium in Mumbai. This three-day conference will feature more than 35 women speakers and panelists sharing their stories, thoughts and ideas with the audience of some of the most respected designers and cultural practitioners. The conference is now open for registration with limited seats for women and men across the architectural and design fraternity. WID 2020+ is curated by the panel led by Brinda Somaya, Founder Trustee of The HECAR Foundation along with the organizing committee that includes Nandini Somaya Sampat, Ruturaj Parikh and Mary Norman Woods. Shared below is a brief overview of the conference.

Day 1:  8th January, 2020

The opening day of the conference will present discussions, keynotes addresses and presentations from professionals from diverse cultures, nationalities and vantage points. The WID 2020+ conference is scheduled to start at 10:00 am.

The opening discussion titled “Retrospective- then and now” include eminent architects; Brinda Somaya, Abha Narain Lambah, Shimul Javeri Kadri, Hirante Welandawe, Eli Giannini and Neera Adarkar as a reflection on the past twenty years. This discussion will be moderated by Asad Laljee and will touch upon the changing patterns of design practice in India and globally.


Brinda Somaya is an Indian architect and urban conservationist. She is the principal architect at Somaya and Kalappa Consultants and the founder trustee of The HECAR Foundation. As the Chairperson of Women in Design 2020+, it is her initiative to celebrate women driven practices around the world.

Abha Narain Lambah is the founder of Abha Narain Lambah Associates, a leading architectural firm in India, specializing in Architectural Conservation. She is the recipient of Sanskriti Award, the Attingham Trust Fellowship and Charles Wallace Fellowship.

Shimul Javeri Kadri founded and nurtured SJK Architects towards its current avatar as a firm that values culture and climate and builds gently in the context. Her firm has won multiple international and national awards including the Prix Versailles Award and the World Architecture Festival Award. 

Hirante Welandawe is the founder of Hirante Welandawe Associates, a practice based in Colombo and a Visiting Design Tutor of the Colombo School of Architecture. Her work follows a particular people centric way focusing on socio-cultural profiles and lifestyle.

Eli Giannini is an Australian architect and the director of the architectural firm MGS Architects. She is a lifetime Fellow of the Australian Institute of Architects and the recipient of National Australian Institute of Architect’s Frederick Romberg Award for Residential Architecture in 2013.

Neera Adarkar is a practicing architect and an urbanist based in Mumbai. She is one of the founder members of Women Architects Forum which in the early nineties initiated the women architects to revisit their own profession and the built environment at large with a gender perspective.

The inaugural discussion will be followed by inspiring and indulging presentations by the following illustrious women

Lecture 01: Salma Samar Damluji [12pm to 12:30pm]

Salma Samar Damluji is an architectand  founding member of ‘The Daw‘an Mud Brick Architecture Foundation’ set up in 2007 and based in Mukalla. She worked with the Egyptian Architect Hasan Fathy in Cairo during 1974-1975 and later in 1983-1984. Since 2005 she is working on the architectural rehabilitation of key sites in Yemen and the Middle East.

Lecture 02: Elizabeth Vines [12:30pm to 1pm]

Elizabeth Vines is a specialist heritage conservation architect. She is aconsultant to UNESCO, the Getty Institute and the World Bank on a range of Asian projects. She has established the Streetwise Asia Fund for Heritage Conservation.

Lecture 03: Johanna Gibbons [1pm to 1:30pm]

Johanna Gibbons is a Landscape Architect, founding member of J & L Gibbons LLP and the founding director of social enterprise, Landscape Learn. She is an Honorary Research Fellow at Birkbeck, University of London.

Lecture 04: Morag Myerscough [3pm to 3:30pm]

Morag Myerscough is the multi-award winning artist and founder of Studio Myerscough. She is known for her projects that integrate graphics and typography within architectural environments like exhibitions, installations, schools, hospitals and cafe.

Lecture 05: Madhavi Desai [3:30pm to 4pm]

Madhavi Desai is a researcher and a writer. She was an adjunct faculty at the Faculty of Architecture, CEPT University, Ahmedabad (1986-2018). She has authored, co-authored and edited 5 other books on Indian architecture.

Lecture 06: Joana Dabaj [4pm to 4:30pm]

Joana Dabaj is an architect, urban designer and researcher. She is co-founder of Catalytic Action, a charity registered in England and Wales, that works to empower communities through strategic and innovative community-led spatial interventions.

Day 1 will conclude with a keynote lecture delivered by Billie Tsien who is the founding partner of the award-winning firm Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects - TWBTA.

Billie Tsien along with her partner, Tod Williams, founded their New York City based firm Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects | Partners in 1986. Their practice is committed to reflecting the values of non-profit, cultural and academic institutions toward an architecture of permanence and enduring vision. A sense of rootedness, light, texture, detail, and most of all, experience, is at the heart of what they design.

Over the past three decades, their dedication to this work has been recognized by numerous national and international citations including the National Medal of the Arts from President Obama, the 2013 Firm of the Year Award from the American Institute of Architects, and the 2019 Praemium Imperiale presented by the Japan Art Association.She has been instrumental in building a practice based on the search for certain qualities which include an architecture of serenity. TWBTA are the winners of the competition to design the ongoing Obama Presidential Centre in Chicago.

Day 2:  9th January, 2020

Day 2 will openwith a keynote lecture by the Architect Annabelle Selldorf founding principal of Selldorf Architects.

Annabelle Selldorf is the Principal of Selldorf Architects, a 70-person architectural design practice that she founded in New York City in 1988. The firm creates public and private spaces that manifest a clear and modern sensibility to enduring impact. Selldorf Architects has worked on public and private projects that range from museums and libraries to a recycling facility; and at scales from the construction of new buildings to the restoration of historic interiors and exhibition design.Born and raised in Cologne, GermanyMs. Selldorf received a Bachelor of Architecture from Pratt Institute and a Master of Architecture from Syracuse University. She is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects and serves on the Board of the Architectural League of New York, the World Monuments Fund, the Chinati Foundation, and the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College, and has taught at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Additionally, Ms. Selldorf is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and in 2014 was the recipient of their prestigious Award in Architecture, and in 2016 received the AIA New York Medal of Honor.

This keynote lecture will be followed by two panel discussions. The first discussion will focus on the role of community in conservation and the second will be a discussion on professional practices In India and beyond.

Panel Discussion 01

The Role of Community in Conservation”
Panelists: Shikha Jain, Aishwarya Tipnis, Poonam Verma Mascarenhas, Swati Apte
Moderated by: Naman Ahuja


Dr. Shikha Jain is the Founder Director of DRONAH which has led more than 40 conservation and museum planning projects across India. She represented India as a Cultural Heritage expert in the UNESCO World Heritage Committee. 

Aishwarya Tipnis is a conservation architect and the founder of Studio ATA. She is the recipient of the highest civilian honour in the culture sector the insignia of Chevalier des Arts et des Lettre by the Government of France in 2018.

Poonam Verma Mascarenhas is an architect, building conservation professional, researcher, and writer, founder-director of Goa-based award-winning studio Archinova_Environs, with over three decades of Indian & International Experience. She was consultant to INTACH Jaipur for the conservation of 22 listed sites.

Swati Apte is the senior advisor to the World Monuments Fund. She is the founder of ‘The Arts Quotient’ which brings together her passion for building compelling leaders, using the full range of skills and experience from over 15 years of work across the business, social sector and arts arenas.

Day two of the conference will witness seven lectures in the order mentioned below:

Lecture 1: Yasaman Esmaili, [11:30am to 12pm]

Yasaman Esmaili is an architect based in Iran and Boston. In 2017, she founded studio chahar and also is a founding member of united4design. In 2018 she won the Silver Global Lafarge Holcim Award for Sustainable Architecture.

Lecture 2: Nandini Somaya Sampat [12pm to 12:30pm]

Nandini Somaya Sampat is an architect and the director at Somaya and Kalappa Consultants. She completed her BA in Political Science followed by a solicitor’s degree from the College of Law, London and her Bachelor of Architecture from Mumbai, India.  In 2013 she received the IGEN 50 award felicitating the top 50 next generation architects and interior designers.

Lecture 3: Rashmi Poddar [12:30pm to 1pm]

Rashmi Poddar is Director at Jnanapravaha Mumbai (JPM). She was awarded a doctorate for her thesis Rasa and Ananda - A Visual Discovery by the University of Mumbai in 1997.

Lecture 4: Chhavi Rajawat [3:30pm to 4pm]

Chhavi Rajawat is a sarpanch (elected village council head) of Village Soda in Rajasthan, India. Her philanthropic and social work has facilitated regular supply of drinking water in households, construction of roads, and basic amenities for 900 houses.

Lecture 5: Vibha Bakshi [4pm to 4:30pm]

Vibha Bakshi is a National Award winning filmmaker. In 2015 her film ‘Daughters Of Mother India’ received the National Film Award. The film also holds the distinction of being ‘The Most Awarded Social Campaign In The World’ – Creative Index 2017.

Lecture 6: Laila Iskandar [4:30pm to 5pm]

Dr. Laila Iskandar is former Minister of Urban Renewal Informal Settlements in the Egyptian national government. She has worked with government, international agencies and private sector in the fields of gender, education, environment, child labour and governance.

Lecture 7: Cathleen McGuigan [5:30pm to 6pm]

Cathleen McGuigan is editor-in-chief of Architectural Record, the nation’s leading architecture publication for 127 years. Under her leadership, Architectural Record has won the Grand Neal award, the top American Business Media award for overall excellence, among numerous other editorial awards.

Day two will close with the second panel discussion which will debate the challenges and contradictions of creating an independent practice in contemporary India and around the world.

Panel Discussion 02

“Diverse Practices in India and Beyond”
Panelists: Shubhra Raje, Monica Chadha, Nela De Zoysa, Samira Rathod
Moderated by: Ar.Shahrukh Mistry


Shubhra Raje is an architect, educator and the founder-principal of shubhraraje_built environments, an inter-disciplinary design and research practice based in Denver (USA) and Ahmedabad (India). She is also a visiting faculty at CEPT university.

Monica Chadha is the founder of Civic Projects Architecture, a Chicago-based practice. Their firm is currently engaged in a wide variety of projects: including their collaboration with Ralph Appelbaum Associates (RAA) on the Obama Presidential Center Museum.

Nela De Zoysa is a practicing architect from Sri Lanka, an Honorary Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, a Fellow of the Sri Lanka Institute of Architects, of the Royal Institute of British Architects & of the Royal Institute of Australian Architects (FRAIA). She formed her firm Nela de Zoysa Design Corporation in 1993. The American Institute of Architects bestowed upon her an Honorary Fellowship of the AIA in 2009, which is one of the highest honours.

Samira Rathod is an architect, teacher, writer and editor. With an uncompromising sense of ethics and passion for design she established Samira Rathod Design Atelier in 2000.She has also been awarded the arc Vision Award- Women and Architecture in Italy.

Day 3:  10th January, 2020;

The final day of WID 2020+ international conference will begin with a keynote lecture at 10:15 am delivered by Architect Brinda Somaya who is the founding principal of the award-winning firm Somaya & Kalappa Consultants.

Brinda Somaya is an architect and urban conservationist. Upon completion of her Bachelor of Architecture from Mumbai University and her Master of Arts from Smith College in Northampton, MA, U.S.A, she started her firm Somaya and Kalappa Consultants in 1978 in Mumbai, India. In May 2012 she was the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate from her alma mater, Smith College. In 2014 she was awarded the Indian Institute of Architects – Baburao Mhatre Gold Medal for Lifetime Achievement. In 2016 she was appointed as the Chairperson of the Board of Governors, School of Planning and Architecture, Vijayawada.In 2017 She joined the Board of the Lafargeholcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction, Zurich, Switzerland. Presently she is the A.D. White Professor-at-large at Cornell University, U.S.A.Over four decades she has merged architecture, conservation and social equity in projects ranging from institutional campuses and rehabilitation of an earthquake-torn village to the restoration of an 18th century Cathedral, showing that progress and history need not be at odds.

This lecture will be followed by presentations by seven inspiring women practitioners in the disciplines of sustainable architecture, urbanism and activism, starting at 11:30 am.

Lecture 1: Sunita Kohli [11:30am to 12pm]

Sunita Kohli is the President of K2INDIA. She is a research-based interior designer, a reputed leader in historical interior architectural and architectural restoration and a manufacturer of fine contemporary and classical furniture.

Lecture 2: Rupali Gupte [12pm to 12:30pm]

Rupali Gupte is an architect and urbanist based in Mumbai. She is currently a Professor at the School of Environment and Architecture, Mumbai. She is also a partner at BARD studio, co-founder of the Urban research collective CRIT and Society For Environment and Architecture.

Lecture 3: Chitra Vishwanath [12:30 pm to 1pm]

Chitra Vishwanath is the Principal Architect of BIOME Environment Solutions Pvt Ltd. Her approach in evolving architectural designs has placed emphasis on indigenous natural resources, in both an active and passive manner.

Lecture 4: Nalini Malani [3:30 pm to 4pm]

Nalini Malani is a contemporary Indian artist with multi-faceted talents as painter, filmmaker and photographer. Her latest retrospective The Rebellion of the Dead, was shown at Centre Pompidou and Castello di Rivoli in 2017-18.

Lecture 5: J Meejin Yoon [4pm to 4:30pm]

Meejin Yoon is an architect, designer and educator who co-founded Höweler+Yoon Architecture in 2004. In 2014, she became the first female to head of the Department of Architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and serves as Dean of the College of Architecture, Arts and Planning at Cornell University.

Lecture 6: Mary N Woods [4:30 pm to 5pm]

Mary N. Woods is a professor of architectural history at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York. Mary N. Woods is the author of such seminal works as: Women Architects in India: Histories of Practice in Mumbai and Delhi.

Lecture 7: Martha Thorne [5pm to 5:30pm]

Martha Thorne is an architectural academic, curator, editor, and author. She is the Executive Director of the Pritzker Architecture Prize and Dean of IE School of Architecture and Design in Madrid.

These lectures will also be accompanied by two extremely powerful and interesting panel discussions conferring about significant topics in the architecture and design industry. The panel discussions will take place during the second half of the day, 2:30 pm onwards.

Panel Discussion 01

“Women in Construction, Skilled Workers and Weavers.”
This panel will comprise of professionals Ratnamala Swain, Bijal Bhrambhatt, Mohit Hajela, Nand Kishor Chowdhury and master-weaver Prem Devi along with various craftsmen, skilled and construction workers narrating their stories and will be a reflection on the lives and struggles of these individuals.Moderated by: Ar Ruturaj Parikh

Ratnamala Swain is the first woman Architect and Industrialist based in Odisha. She had set up an architectural consulting firm AR Engineers and now is Director of the residential and commercial realty group DN Homes.

Panel Discussion 02 – Climactic Dialogue

“Mentors, Stars; Inspiration and Reality”
The discussion on this panel will focus on the world-renowned practices led by some of the most significant women in architecture and design disciplines. Moderated by Ranjit Hoskote, it will include the all the keynote lecturers of this seminal event: Brinda Somaya, Annabelle Selldorf and Billie Tsien sharing their beliefs, ideologies and inspirational stories

You can see the complete schedule and registration details for the conference by logging on to

This climactic discussion will be followed by a vote of thanks and the closing of the conference.

About HECAR Foundation: The HECAR Foundation is a non- profit organization founded in 1999 to celebrate Mumbai’s multifaceted historic tradition. The foundation is an acronym for Heritage, Education, Conservation, Architecture and Restoration. It recognizes Architecture as a product of historical movement and that the essence of life is growth and change; and as such must make allowances for both. The HECAR Foundation is committed to research, education and public initiatives on Architecture and its related fields including heritage and urban issues through talks, publications, conference, exhibitions, scholarships and seminars. Publications brought out by the HECAR Foundation includes; Sindhnamah, Vanishing Homes of India: T.S. Nagarajan, Silent Sentinels: Traditional Architecture of Coorg and Brinda Somaya: Works & Continuties co-edited by Mapin Publishing.


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