The Eleventh Annual Berkeley Undergraduate Prize for Architectual Design Excellence 2009
Berkeley Prize 2009

Neelakshi Joshi

I was born into a family and culture that has its vast mesh of roots embedded deep in history. Parents and grandparents in India constantly instill us with a respect for nature and the virtue of frugality in everyday acts of life . This is their greatest gift to us and our only hope if we wish to sustain ourselves on this planet. Being an army brat, shifting base every two years and living in ancient forts, old stone houses and thatched huts had its unique thrill as a child. However, looking back , with the perspective of an architecture student, it helps in undestanding the diverse and intricate relationship between climate, culture and the built environment.

In college, I enjoy the constant debate with professors who encourage us to seek local solutions towards a sustainable future and to look beyond the green wash the movement has faced in the recent past. After four years of architectural education, I am currently training with a firm that specializes in respecting local climate, material and temprament. It has greatly helped me to understand the translation of traditions in a contemporary scenario and seek a solution to the problems of cultural erosion, climate change and material depletion. Banaras has been my home for the last seven years. Its antiquity, lifestyle, festivity and vigour has left a lasting impression on me. I hope to carry forward the research that started with this essay and give it a more tangible form in the future as an architect and also a proactive citizen.

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Neelakshi Joshi, Birla Institute of Technology, MESRA, Ranchi, India
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