That Tallulah D’Silva has won several awards for her work and even been a speaker for a TEDx event fades in comparison to her other achievements as a passionate environmentalist and architect — and a catalyst for change. From working on initiatives such as the ‘Kids for Tigers’ project, Global Shapers; powering urban interventions such as NoMoZo, Black Spot Fixes and, now, the Travelling Dome; to even developing ecological projects such as the EcoLoo and bio-remediation systems, D’Silva’s life as an architect is as unique as it gets.
Back in 1998, she started off by handling residential projects from individual houses to house extensions with a design and build module, experimenting with contemporary design, minimalism, and traditional building systems. She simply wanted to design for the locals, where the budget was a constraint and eco-friendly design the norm.
Her takeaway from that experience? “A better building could be made by simpler design, where the natural surroundings could be integrated with the new indoor spaces,” says the architect who sees her work as sensitive, warm, natural, and celebrating the outdoors.
As she continued to grow as an architect, collaborations opened up newer experiences. Working on residential and institutional projects in Goa with architect Rajiv D’Silva brought in many accolades; and a collaboration with a team of consultants for Panjim city under the JNNURM in 2008 got her interested in other community initiatives, including some with Richa Narvekar (urban designer), Titus Fernandes (urban designer) and Vishal Rawlley (designer and filmmaker). “These collaborations taught me many lessons in the importance of public participation, inclusive design and community needs,” acknowledges D’Silva.
Her commitment to the greater good has led her to encourage all trainees and architects/urban designers in her office to lead a community project where they take complete responsibility — even it means making mistakes along the way. This process educates all young architects to be curious and thirsty to learn more, which can only happen if the fear of failure is overcomed. “I remember all my mistakes. When I was experimenting with brick arches on my first project, a brick house, it collapsed as we de-shuttered too early! I simply built it again,” she states matter-of-factly.
Moving forward, the architect hopes to come up with solutions that address climate change. “I am so excited to experiment with the temporal. Perhaps in a few years or sooner, you’ll see me in a work space that’s portable, mobile,” shares D’Silva, adding that she wishes to design sustainable livelihoods on water for all of us when we become climate refugees.

Looking Back

When working on the Moira House, D’Silva convinced the client to adopt simple design aspects: linear form with a courtyard, load-bearing construction, local and natural building materials. “This, in a way, helped me define what really is Goan and local, and how this can be done in a subtle manner,” says the architect.

Looking forward

“My recent tryst…with temporary structures, emergency boat-making is something I’m looking forward to make bigger and better,” says D’Silva, who is also working on a Tree House and an outdoor learning module…with a portable lightweight geodesic dome; which is a collaboration with Vishal Rawlley.

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