Event Date: 
03.04.21 to 03.05.21

2021 WDA Conference, Minnette De Silva: Constructive Dialogues

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Minnette De Silva: Constructive Dialogues

A conference organized by Womxn in Design and Architecture

Thursday, March 4, 6PM

Friday, March 5, 9AM - 4PM



Minnette De Silva’s unique position in the mid-20th century exemplifies cultural and local specificity in dialogue with a global modern movement. Her architectural practice was expressive of the materials, techniques, and history of her native Sri Lanka as well as her participation in a network of international architects and designers. As a result, De Silva’s legacy traces the complex and multi-directional vectors of modernity. 


The conversation between her built work, dedication to the production of her own archive and commitment to the inclusion of traditional forms of labor, present De Silva as a leader in design. With most of her buildings lost to time and neglect, her architecture survives primarily through images and words. Denying reductive dichotomies of International Style and vernacular, client and architect, object and archive, her work instead reveals nuances in architectural practice that continue to be relevant today.


This year’s Womxn in Design and Architecture conference expands the geographical focus of architectural practice by taking De Silva’s work as a point of departure. In order to root its narrative in a wider context, we pose the question, how might this work move contemporary theory and practice toward productive dialogues?


Related Press

Twenty-two women architects and designers you should know. Dezeen’s article featured Minnette De Silva, in addition to 2021 speaker Anupama Kundoo, and Anne Tyng. 3/8/21.

Minnette de Silva: The story of an “Asian Woman Architect” Keynote speaker Anooradha Iyer Siddiqi interviewed in Architectural Record, plus mention of the 2021 WDA conference. 3/24/2021.


Program Schedule



6:00 PM EST / 11:00 PM UK / 4:30 AM LKA

Welcome + Introduction

Dean Mónica Ponce de León

Keynote Presentation

Anooradha Iyer Siddiqi PhD, Assistant Professor, Barnard College + Columbia University Department of Architecture; Affiliated Faculty, Barnard College Department of Art History, and Columbia University Institute of Comparative Literature and Society, Institute of African Studies, and South Asia Institute

Q&A + Discussion

Larissa Guimarães + Sonia Sobrino Ralston, WDA Members

Wrap Up + Short Schedule Announcement

Luis Fernando Muñoz, WDA Member 



9:00 AM EST / 2:00 PM UK / 7:30 PM LKA

Welcome and Introduction

Welcome + Introduction

Dean Mónica Ponce de León

WDA Introduction | Mission + Members

Introduction to Constructing Memories Presenters

Elena M’Bouroukounda, Shoshana Torn, + Priscilla Zhang; WDA Members


9:15 AM EST / 2:15 PM UK / 7:45 PM LKA

Constructing Memories


Ashley de Vos, Architect, Landscape Architect + Conservation, ADV Consultants

D. Raja Segar, Artist + Client

Brinda Somaya, Principal Architect, Somaya & Kalappa Consultants; A. D. White Professor-at-Large, Cornell University

David Robson, Architectural Historian + Author

Discussion + Q&A

Moderated by Shivani Shedde, PhD Candidate, History and Theory of Architecture, Princeton SoA


12:00 PM EST / 5:00 PM UK / 10:30pm LKA

Traversing Boundaries, Locating Histories

Introduction to Presenters

Patty Hazle + Jacqueline Mix, WDA Members


Tariq Jazeel PhD, Professor of Human Geography, University

College London, UK

Gillian Darley, Architectural Historian + Author

Discussion + Q&A

Moderated by Shoshana Goldstein PhD, 2020-21 Princeton Mellon / Princeton Institute for International & Regional Studies Fellow and M.S. Chadha Center for Global India




2:00 PM EST / 7:00 PM UK / 12:30 AM LKA

Activating Legacies

Introduction to Presenters

Lisa Ramsburg + Laura Fegely, WDA Members


Yasmin Shariff, Director, Dennis Sharp Architects

Anupama Kundoo PhD, Principal, Anupama Kundoo Architects; Professor, Potsdam School of Architecture, Germany

Discussion + Q&A

Moderated by Curt Gambetta, PhD Candidate, History and Theory of Architecture & Urbanism, Princeton SoA




About WDA

Womxn in Design and Architecture (WDA) is a graduate student group formed in 2014 at Princeton University School of Architecture. The annual conference celebrates the work and legacy of a pivotal female architect or designer with contributions from international historians and scholars, in addition to artists, curators, and practitioners. Read more.


2020-21 Active WDA Members include Kaitlin D. Faherty, Laura Fegely, Larissa Guimarães, Patty Hazle, Elena M’Bouroukounda, Jacqueline Mix, Luis Fernando Muñoz, Sonia Sobrino Ralston, Lisa Ramsburg, Shoshana Torn, Priscilla Zhang


The WDA conference is made possible by the Jean Labatut Memorial Lecture Fund. The School of Architecture, Princeton University, is registered with the AIA Continuing Education System (AIA/CES) and is committed to developing quality learning activities in accordance with the AIA/CES criteria.



*If you are a member of the Princeton University / School of Architecture community, please email soacomm@princeton.edu for an internal registration link.