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Exhibition Lecture | Stepwells of Ahmedabad

01 December 6:30pm - 8:30pm
Venue: The Cooper Union, Zoom / Online
New York

This lecture will be conducted through Zoom. Please register in advance here. Zoom account registration is required.


In conjunction with the online exhibition Stepwells of Ahmedabad, Priyanka Sheth, Tanvi Jain, and Aashini Sheth will speak about traditional water structures that form the architectural vocabulary of the semi-arid regions of the Indian subcontinent. With a focus on a particular type of historic subterranean water structure called a stepwell, the lecture will touch upon issues of heritage, gender, patronage, and the current condition of these structures in the city of Ahmedabad. The talk will also explore and speculate about the future of urban water infrastructures in semi-arid regions by referencing traditional systems like stepwells to address the challenges of an impending water crisis posed by climate change. 

The presentation will be followed by a conversation and Q & A moderated by Anthony Vidler.


Priyanka Sheth is an architectural designer and researcher based in New York with a keen interest in issues of preservation, traditional water infrastructure, and the evolution of urban form in Indian cities. She is currently working as an Architectural Designer for Beyer Blinder Belle Architects and Planners in New York. Previously, she has practiced as an architect in India and has taught design studios and urban history seminar courses focusing on Indian cities at CEPT University. She has been an integral part of Stepwells of Ahmedabad, an ongoing collaborative research project focused on historic subterranean water structures called stepwells. She has been a co-curator for exhibitions on stepwells at the Kanoria Center for Arts and Gandhi Memorial Museum in Ahmedabad in 2016 and at the Yale Architecture Gallery in 2018. She has a Master of Architecture from Yale University and a Bachelor of Architecture from CEPT University, India.


Tanvi Jain is an architectural designer and researcher currently pursuing an MPhil degree in Architecture and Urban Design at the University of Cambridge, UK. Her design thesis focuses on water traditions of semi-arid India, urban water infrastructure, and water rights in support of decentralized systems and self-sufficiency at various scales, from settlements to neighborhoods and domestic end-users. She has practiced as an architect in India and co-founded eco-habitats, an organisation dedicated to designing and building affordable houses in Madhya Pradesh, India. Tanvi has been a co-curator and researcher for the travelling exhibitions Stepwells of Ahmedabad. She also assisted with On the Cusp of Land and Water, a Vastushilp International Habitat Studio that explored ways of reconstituting Ahmedabad's relationship with its riverShe received a Bachelor of Architecture from CEPT University, India.


Aashini Sheth is an architect and researcher based in Ahmedabad, India. Her research interests include South Asian landscape history with a special focus on historic water systems of Western and Central India. Her recent research project investigated a broad range of water structures in Chanderi, a city in Central India dating back to the medieval period. She has also worked as a research associate for the exhibition Ephemeral UrbanismDoes Permanence Matter? at the Architekturmuseum der TU München in Munich, Germany in 2017. She has been involved with the research and production of detailed architectural drawings for the Stepwells of Ahmedabad initiative. She holds a Bachelor of Architecture from CEPT University, India.


This event is free and accessible to the public. 


View the full Fall 2020 Lectures and Events List.