Inspirations: Didi Contractor, 81


Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh

Photo: Shailendra Pandey

Green Builder

By Nishita Jha

Didi Contractor is living proof that we must build castles in the air. Fascinated with “designing spaces with emotional content”, this Germany-born self-taught architect journeyed through various art forms before finding her niche in India. The village aesthetic of construction caught her eye and she started building houses out of materials procured from the original site, thereby reducing expense on transport. “Modern India is determined to forget all that is Indian. Often, I end up reminding the locals about traditional ways of building homes that were warmer, safer and environment friendly,” says Didi, whose work has convinced many to switch to green homes. In the past year, she has collaborated with the government to create a green old-age home and is now working on constructing a school on the same lines. Her houses block out harmful radiation, including microwave and electromagnetic radiation, and are designed to collapse outwards in case of an earthquake — an important factor in Himachal’s seismically active zone, where Contractor has been settled for the past 32 years.



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