Sheila Sri Prakash

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Sheila Sri Prakash
Sheila Sri Prakash WEF.jpg
Sheila Sri Prakash addressing the World Economic Forum
Born Sheila Sri Prakash
(1955-07-06)6 July 1955
Bhopal, India
Residence Chennai, India
Alma mater Anna University School of Architecture and Planning
Occupation Architect
Urban designer
Executive
Board member of Shilpa Foundation
Nirmana Investments
Shilpa Architects
Relatives Bhargav Sri Prakash (son),
Pavitra Sri Prakash (daughter)

Sheila Sri Prakash (6 July 1955, Bhopal, India) is an architect[1][2][3][4] and urban designer of Indian origin.[5][6][7][8][9][10][11] She is the founder of Shilpa Architects and is the first woman in India to have started and operated her own architectural practice.[12][13][14][15][16][17][18] She has designed over 1200 completed architectural projects[19] during her career in the last 35 years.[20]

She is a pioneer in architecture[21] and a globally thought-leading[22] social innovator,[23] for her work in Reciprocity[24][25] or Holistic Sustainability.[26][27][28] She was the first Indian Architect to serve on the World Economic Forum's 2011 Global Agenda Council on Design Innovation,[29][30] a 16-member team of international experts in Design and Innovation, to formulate ways that improve the state of the world. She served on the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on the role of arts in society, in recognition of her signature works of Visionary architecture[31][32] that feature art, culture and heritage.[33][34][35][36] She is cited as a Starchitect[8] for her iconic buildings and the canonical status of the architectural theories surrounding Reciprocity in Design. During the 2014 World Dance Day Celebration at the Tanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple (UNESCO world heritage monument), which she has been restoring upon commission from the Archaeological Survey of India, she was the Guest of Honor at an event presided by Padma Subrahmanyam and the Prince of Tanjavur - Sri Babaji Rajah Bhonsle Chattrapathy. She is considered a living "legend" in contemporary architecture.[37] She has also been described as "one of the most versatile designers"[38] of the modern era for her repertoire of award-winning projects around the world.[39] Her work ranges from the low-cost Reciprocal House for the socio-economically underprivileged that she designed on invitation from the World Bank in 1987: The Year of Shelter for the Shelterless, to pioneering energy efficient commercial buildings, custom bungalows, residential communities, integrated townships, industrial facilities, Art museums, sports stadiums, centers of education, public infrastructure and luxury hotels. As India’s foremost award-winning architect on the global stage,[4] Sheila Sri Prakash is acknowledged as an international thought leader and as an innovative architect.[40][41]

Biography[edit]

Child Prodigy[edit]

She was regarded as a child prodigy in the Arts from a very young age.[42][43][44][45] She started learning Bharatanatyam when she was four years old and gave her first on-stage Arangetram performance when she was six years of age.[46] She developed into a successful performing artist and had a career in the performing arts between 1961 and 1984.[47] Her talents ranged from Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi, Veenai, Classical Indian music, painting and sculpting.

Early life and artistic career[edit]

Kumari Sheila with Padma Bhushan Dhanvanthi Rama Rau, 1961
Kumari Sheila receiving an award from Rukmini Devi Arundale, 1965
Kumari Sheila with Guru Dhandayudha Pani Pillai and Guru Chitti Babu (musician), 1968

Sheila Sri Prakash was born in Bhopal, India on 6 July 1955 to Lt. Col. G.K.S. Pathy, who was an officer in the Indian Army and S. Thangamma.[citation needed] She attended the Rosary Matriculation School in Chennai and attained a pre-university degree from Stella Maris College, Chennai. She enrolled in the Bachelors in Architecture from the Anna University School of Architecture and Planning in 1973, at a time when there was a strong bias against women entering the field.[48]

As an only child, she was encouraged to train in Classical Indian Dance, Music and the Arts from a very young age and started learning Bharatanatyam when she was just four years old. Sheila demonstrated an exemplary talent as a Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi dancer,[49] while she also had an extraordinary gift for the Veenai musical instrument. Besides music and dance, she excelled at painting and sculpting. She performed her Bharatanatyam Arangetram to critical acclaim at the age of Six in Mumbai, under the training of Sri Kalyanasundaram Pillai, Govindaraya Pillai and Mahalingam Pillai. Padma Bhushan Dhanvanthi Rama Rau who presided over her Arangetram, was the first person to call her a child prodigy for her extraordinary talents.[44] Over a period of nearly two decades as a performing artist,[50] Sheila gave several notable performances as a dancer of Bharatanatyam[51] and Kuchipudi.[52] Her family moved to Chennai to give her greater opportunities in the Classical Arts and to be trained in Bharatanatyam by Sri Dandayudha Pani Pillai. At the age of eight she was recognized for her role as Krishna in Padma Bhushan Kumari Kamala's dance drama, "Nauka Charitram". Sheila played St. Thomas along with Padma Shri Padma Subrahmanyam in the dance drama "Thotta Nenjam." She was a disciple of the famous kuchipudi maestro, Padma Bhushan Dr. Vempati Chinna Satyam and has the distinction of having been the protagonist in several of his dance dramas.[53] Her performances with his leading disciples like Padma Shri Hema Malini, Padma Shri Shobha Naidu, Lakshmi Viswanathan and Rathnapapa in Krishna Parijatham won accolades.[54] She performed the lead role of Shakuntala with Manju Bhargavi in the dance drama Shakunthalam, which was an adaptation of the story in Mahabarata and dramatized by Kalidasa.

As a Veenai artist, she has the distinction of playing, composing and recording Radha Madhavam and Sivaleela Vilasam with the world-renowned Veenai musician – Chitti Babu.[21][55]

She is noted for using local arts, culture and heritage as a feature of architectural design.[56] She is the foremost contemporary Indian architect to use Indian art and culture as an integral driver of design, to achieve Reciprocity[disambiguation needed] or Holistic Sustainability.[57][58] She continues to be an active patron of the Arts.

Architecture[edit]

1987: Year of Shelter for Shelterless. Award-winning low cost home designed upon invitation from the World Bank and HUDCO
An IGBC LEED Platinum Rated Building designed by Sheila Sri Prakash and Pavitra Sri Prakash

She studied architecture at the Anna University School of Architecture and Planning and also attended the Harvard Graduate School of Design's Executive Education Program.[29] As a global leader in sustainable design that blends sensitivity for the environment with socio-economic progress for the underprivileged, she is also known for introducing vernacular[59] and culturally relevant techniques into contemporary designs.[60][61] She is regarded as the founding practitioner-researcher that identified and defined the field of Spaciology[62][63][64] – the impact of space design and planning on society and especially, on people.[65] She is acclaimed for her work in spaciology,[66][67] particularly as it applies to healthcare[68] and the leisure, wellness, and hospitality industry.[69] Her research findings seed emerging perspectives of study that are globally significant, yet particularly appropriate in high-density rapidly developing economies.[70] Her work probes the powerful reciprocal impact linking the built environment to human behaviour, through urban design, architecture and sociology. She is regarded as the originating face of the indo-centric design thinking movement as a solution to problems on a global scale[71][72]

She was a charter member who was instrumental in establishing the Indian Green Building Council.[29]

She is known for her contributions as an active member of Zonta International, which is an organisation that aims to enhance the status of women around the world.[73] She served as the area director of Zonta International for her district[74] and participated in events internationally.

Several of her architectural designs can be seen at Mahindra World City, New Chennai, the Madras Art House[75][76] at the Cholamandal Artists' Village, Kuchipudi Art Academy in Chennai, Paranur Railway Station etc., and the World Bank funded urban housing development program in the year of shelter for the shelterless. As the most famous Indian architect on the global stage,[77] she is credited to be a pioneer among leading Indian architects,[78] for combining the principles of Bharatanatyam, classical Indian music, sculpture and architecture in award-winning projects[18][79][80] As early as in 1993, she designed a home in Chennai with recycled materials and pioneered a system for rainwater harvesting.[81] This innovative system for a residential premises was made compulsory by the state of Tamil Nadu in 2003. It set a blueprint across India, as the most effective and low cost solution for addressing the crisis of depletion of freshwater sources in India.

Over the last three decades, Sheila Sri Prakash has been a strong voice for uplifting the socio-economically disadvantaged through urban planning.[82] She is the principal inventor on two patents for low cost building products and materials.[83]

World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council[edit]

As part of her role at the World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council on Design Innovation, she has pioneered a "Reciprocal Design Index"[84] that prescribes parameters and metrics surrounding sustainable design to factor the environment, sociology and economics.[85][86]

She is the founder of the Reciprocity Wave Movement, which is an art and design competition to raise awareness about Holistic Sustainability.[87][88][89][90] The 2nd Reciprocity Wave Event in Chennai was conducted in partnership with the Indian Premier League's Chennai Super Kings[90][91]

Reciprocity Wave[edit]

The Reciprocity Wave, a program conceived by architect Sheila Sri Prakash, is a sculpture competition where students create art work with recycled materials to sensitize the public about social and environmental issues that need immediate attention. Shilpa architects have already conducted three such initiatives, two in Chennai [90][91] and one in Bangalore.[87][88][89][90] The most recent initiative at Cubbon Park, Bangalore,[92] brought to light various issues ranging from corruption to women's rights, and gained attention from the Bangalore Media for the powerful concept and impact that it created. Many of the leading daily's published a series of articles about the event and also covered the competition at length. The event also included a Health Gaming Championship involving fooya, in partnership with FriendsLearn.

Film-making[edit]

A Dancer's Dialog with Thanjavur Brihadeeswara was produced and directed by Sheila Sri Prakash.[46] The critically acclaimed film[93] captures her work in restoring the Brihadeeswarar Temple upon commission by the Archaeological Survey of India and details her research in Spaciology at the intersection of Indo-centric culture, classical Indian dance Bharatanatyam and the architectural design approach to this World Heritage Monument.[94] It was premiered on World Dance Day, 29 April 2014, at the Brihadeeswarar Temple, during a felicitation of Sheila Sri Prakash and Padma Subrahmanyam by the Prince of Tanjavur - Sri Babaji Rajah Bhonsle Chattrapathy.

Public speaking engagements and recognition[edit]

Delivering the keynote address at the 2013 Milan Design Summit
Keynote address at 2015 361 Degrees Architecture and Design Conference in Mumbai
Keynote address at the 2013 Kuala Lumpur Design Forum

2016
She was a keynote speaker and spoke about "borders" in architecture at the Tampere Design Week in Finland.[95] She delivered a keynote address in Hyderabad at an event by FICCI.[96] She received the Role Model Architect Award from Women Architects & Designers (WADE India) at their annual conference in New Delhi.[97] She was the keynote speaker at the Government of India's Smart Cities Conference in May 2016 in New Delhi and spoke about the role of architecture and design, as it relates to Smart Cities, by referencing her work.[98] She was the key note speaker at the Business World Summit in New Delhi about the Internet of Things, as it relates to Smart Cities. She was the key note speaker at SWADHARM Conference on the occasion of International Women's Day by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in Vishakhapatnam[99]

2015
She addressed the Women in Architecture Summit by the Universitat Politecnica De Valencia, Spain, in May 2015.[100] She was named to the top 50 names in Architecture and Design by Architectural Digest and the AD50 as a "Reinventor".[101] In March, she was invited to deliver the keynote address at the 361 Degrees Architecture and Design Conference in Mumbai,[102] alongside renowned designers from around the world.[103] Understanding the similarities between dance and architecture, Ar. Sheila Sri Prakash opined and substantiated her philosophy of resonance vs. bhavas (as in music and dance) by reiterating the responsibility of the architect to his client. “When conceptualizing the storyline of the design, an architect must take into consideration the site and materials. Then layer it by using lights and drama to actualize the design". She explained this via an example of her own studio in Chennai where she used old doors carved so artistically on the ceilings and covered them with glass and added lights to create drama and also keep alive the priceless pieces of Indian art.

2014
In December, she was invited to speak at the India Infrastructure Conference in New Delhi to talk about the future of Affordable Housing. In the fall of 2014, as a part of the IGBC endowment series at Indian Institute of Technology, Madras - A lecture on Reciprocity (Design thinking); "The future of Sustainability" by Ar. Sheila Sri Prakash was organised by the CEA. Speaker Ar Sheila Sri Prakash a renowned expert in sustainability design spoke about various design projects she has handled through her career and gave the students an insight into the thought process that goes into design of sustainable buildings and future possibilities in the field. In May, she was invited to lead the discussion at the World Economic Forum's panel on India, along with business leaders from across the nation, to formulate an agenda for the first 100 days of India's new Government. During the summer of 2014, she was invited to deliver a lecture on Indo-centric design at the Temple University's Japan Campus. Prakash's lecture on “Indian Design“ includes an overview of India's geography, people, culture, art and history. She relates this to designing in India by identifying the current trends and challenges with some case studies, and concluded by talking about Globalization and the opportunities it presents for collaboration and synergies.[104] In April, she was the Guest of Honor on the occasion of World Dance Day during a program at the Brihadeeswara Temple, when her film "A Dancer's Dialog with the Tanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple" [105] was screened to an audience of dancers, architects, artists, Padma Subrahmanyam and the Prince of Tanjavur Babaji Rajah Bhonsle Chattrapathy. She was invited to speak about "Finding the Perfect Solution" at the 2014 International Women's Conference by the Art of Living Foundation[106]

2013
She spoke on a panel on sustainability in December 2013 as a part of the Indian Institute of Architects National Convention.[107] In October 2013, she led a discussion at the World Economic Forum's Special meeting on Urbanization in Tokyo.[108] She addressed the American Institute of Architects Chapter in Tokyo, Japan in to talk about Indo-centric architecture[109] In June 2013, she was invited by the Malaysian Institute of Architects or Pertubuhan Akitek Malaysia/PAM to deliver the keynote address about the "deFunctional" theme of the Kuala Lumpur Design Forum.[110][111] As one of the most famous Indian architects today, she was invited to address the Design Summit organised by Corriere Della Sera in Milan (Italy) in April 2013, to help develop a blueprint for Europe's economic revival using her thought-leadership in Reciprocal design-thinking.[112][113][114] She was a judge and speaker at the 2013 Reciprocity Wave, which was the first student competition in India, where students created public art inspired by the design philosophies of Reciprocity.[115][116]

2012
She was an invited speaker as a "Break-out thinker about the future of Sustainability" at the 2012 Global Green Summit by Bloomberg in Singapore for her thought-leadership and practice surrounding Holistic Sustainability or Reciprocity[117] She was an invited participant and contributor to the United Nation's 2012 Rio+20 Summit in Brazil. She was invited to contribute to the World Economic Forum's Energy 2050 white paper on the future of energy and sustainability.[118] At the 2012 Annual Meeting of the New Champions or the Summer Davos in Tianjin, China, she was a "rapporteur" for a panel on the role of arts in bridging the urban-rural divide around the world[119] and was also an expert panellist for a session dedicated to Smart Cities.[120] She was invited to contribute to the 2012 London Olympics by Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom and attended the Global Infrastructure Summit on Sustainable Architecture and Urban Design, as a part of the 2012 London Olympics.[121] She also addressed the Indo-Australian Summit on the Future of Sustainable Cities and introduced the concept of a Reciprocal Design Index and Holistic Sustainability. [122]

2011
She was selected by Leibniz University of Hannover in Germany and the University of Valencia in Spain, to be featured in a travelling exhibition across Europe that showcased notable architects from around the world and their impact on society.[123] She was the only architect from India, among seven architects from around the world who were selected in honour of their professional accomplishments.[124] She was an invited expert to the 2011 National Association of Realtors Convention in Hyderabad, India and was a speaker about "Shaping India for tomorrow".[125] She was an invited speaker to the 2011 Confederation of Indian Industry and Indian Green Building Council Conference, to introduce a concept of "Holistic Sustainability" – extending parameters for Sustainable Design beyond environmental footprint, to socio-economic impact.[126] On 7 February 2011 she spoke at the Goethe Institute about Notions of Space.

2007
She was invited to speak at several national and international forums such as the Confederation of Indian Industry and she was a key member of the delegation from India to the United States Green Building Council's Annual Conference in Chicago in 2007.

Academia[edit]

Sheila Sri Prakash routinely participates as a juror or expert critique at student charrettes at Universities around the world.

She was a Visiting Scholar at Ball State University in 2002.[127]

She currently serves on the visiting faculty of the University of Hanover in Germany.[128][129]

She was also invited to serve on the Board of Studies at the Anna University School of Architecture and Planning, for a three-year term.[130] The Board of Studies influences the syllabus, key appointments of faculty/academic leadership and major initiatives at the Institution.

She has published her research at many institutions around the world, including her Reciprocal Design Methodology at the Architecture and Planning School at the Indian Institute of Technology at Kharagpur[131]

Recent projects[edit]

Shilpa Architects, Planners and Designers have been working recently on several projects, including a LEED Platinum rated office building as their own design headquarters. Other projects include the HITEX exhibition center in Hyderabad[132] and the South City Township by Larsen & Toubro that is an approximately 4000 apartment residential township. Another large scale housing project is within Mahindra World City, the upcoming Taj 5-star beach resort near Pondicherry,[133] the state of Tamil Nadu's first platinum rated office complex for Cethar Vessels, an office building for HDFC Bank, as well as the regional headquarters for the State Bank of India. Her wide-ranging portfolio of current projects includes Industrial architecture. She designed a large scale manufacturing facility and warehouse for de:OBO Bettermann in India[134][135] and is currently designing a factory for the industry leading technology hardware manufacturer Flextronics.

Awards and recognition[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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