BIR, HIMACHAL PRADESH, INDIA: Didi Contractor, a celebrated earthen architect and co-founding Professor Emeritus of the Internship in Vernacular Eco-Architecture at Dharmalaya Institute (a project of the Earthville Network in the Indian Himalayas), was honored with WADe Asia‘s Lifetime Achievement Award for her work in natural building in the Himalayas, which has inspired countless architects in India and beyond.
WADe [World Women in Art, Architecture, and Design] is an international organization recognizing, advancing and celebrating the work of women in art, architecture, and design internationally. Its 2017 conference in India attracted over 700 creatives from across the continent.
The Lifetime Achievement award was presented to Didi Contractor, now 88 years of age, by award-winning Bollywood actress Bhagyashree. Didi, as she is known affectionately by all, received a standing ovation from the audience. Reflecting later on the programme, Tanvi Jain, a young architect from CEPT University (formerly the Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology), said, “For a young architect such as me, hearing architects of the likes of Didi Contractor was truly inspirational.”
Didi began collaborating with Earthville founder Mark Moore in 2009, first by contributing the architectural design for the main building of the Dharmalaya Institute’s Himalayan campus, and then later through ongoing collaborations to develop the Internship in Vernacular Eco-Architecture.
Both Didi and Mark are very pleased that participation in the internship has been approximately 68% female, empowering a new generation of women as ecologically sensitive architects and compassionately engaged humans.
Though Didi has retired from her position on the faculty of the Internship of Vernacular Eco-Architecture, her life, work, and wisdom continue to inspire and guide the faculty, artisans, students and interns of the Institute.