Game-Changing Architecture Graduates #14 /// Ishita Shah



The Game-Changing Architecture Graduates project is a short daily series of posts that aim at honoring and giving visibility to the work of people who recently graduated from architecture school, and who fiercely engage with the political dimension of the built environment. Battling with “the discipline that organizes bodies in space” that tends to materialize and enforces the violence of colonial, racist, patriarchal, capitalist, and ableist political structures, they undertake to either beating architecture at its own game, or envisioning revolutionary designs and narratives. Please note that this series exists in a joyful and constructive spirit of community-building, far from ideas of competition, ranking, and exhaustiveness; there is no doubt that many other people than the ones featured in it would deserve to be part of it. 

Read the series introduction /// Find the rest of the series 

#14 Ishita Shah


City: Bengaluru


Shah Ishita

Ishita Shah is trained as a designer and historian. Her practice revolves around the idea of curating for culture. Through the pandemic of 2020, she has been conducting online engagements on constructing personal archives in order to discuss creative possibilities for archiving in India and the Global South.

Over the past year, Ishita has collaborated with Biome Environmental Solutions Pvt. Ltd., National Centre for Biological Sciences and INTACH Bengaluru; and co-curated a public engagement platform, Design-ed Dialogues at the Courtyard, with an intention to develop a wide-range of public interpretation projects. Prior to this, she has been an educator and the coordinator to the UNESCO Chair in Culture, Habitat and Sustainable Development at Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology. She has also been the founding archivist and oral historian at CEPT Archives, and worked with Royal Institute of British Architects, INSITE Magazine, SPADE India Research Cell and Design Innovation and Craft Resource Centre.

Ishita is also a Graham Foundation Grant recipient 2020. The Funambulist thanks Anooradha Iyer Siddiqi for recommending her work to us.


Project 1 /// BIOME

BIOME publication project is focused on archiving, interpreting and disseminating the narratives of work and life at BIOME through its people, their practices and projects from over the last thirty years.

BIOME Diaries is a collection of essays and artworks contributed by a wide-range of practitioners and academicians. The content of this publication is created in two ways: one set of contributions speak about the design practice at BIOME Environmental Solutions Pvt. Ltd and the second set of chapters are inspired from the ecological and social responsibility nurtured at BIOME. Designed as a set of three, BIOME Diaries are meant for all kinds of readers. Primarily alluding to the art and design community, these diaries will be very relevant to keen enthusiasts of ecology and environment. The diaries are titled as ‘now’, ‘then’ and ‘emergence’.

BIOME Archive, as of today, consists of data related to more than 90 selected projects. Furthermore, we will be sifting and organising information from across the larger database of more than 600 projects in areas of architecture, planning, and intelligent water designs. In the longer run, the archive will also curate and disseminate the works of the Biome Trust in water and waste management as well as community engagement initiatives. The archive is a collection of primary sources, like drawings, photographs, documents, models, recordings and presentations. Physical material is professionally digitized and digitally developed material is reorganised into suitable formats.

Project 2 /// Lab Culture

Lab Culture: life beyond sciences, was a two-part exhibition, intended to bring forth the nature of life and work at the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), Bengaluru at their Museum and Field Stations Facility – Gallery. Envisaged to tell stories of science, Lab Culture I (June 2019) presented a symphony of ideas and explorations, distinguishing one laboratory’s work culture from another. Thus, the scientific exhibits and creative representations displayed then, made a remark about the culture of an art-science collaborative in more individualistic ways. Following that, the interpretative search for Lab Culture II (Sept 2019) was inspired from specific studies about cellular and neurobiology, introduced by the participating labs from NCBS and inStem. Starting from the mere existence of a single cell or a neuron, to the growth of a systemic structure, newer processes are discovered and adapted. Situations are quite similar, when an institution grows. The second exhibition thus, traced values like scalability, modularity and flexibility across time, space, and philosophy, to represent their effects on a human society. Through these exercises, the exhibitions brought diverse practitioners together from arts, science, design, and history to interpret and disseminate the relationship between these spheres.

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Design-ed Dialogues #6, Play of Knowledge Systems, informal session at The Courtyard, Bengaluru
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Students documenting behind the scene action, during the Ethnography workshop in Hampi-Anegundi, Karnataka
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Participants of the Oral History Workshop in session with master cart marker in Srirangapatna, Karnataka
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Study of archival material at the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, in collaboration with CEPT Archives
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Presentation made during the Curating Archives 2020 series, about different kinds of archival practices.
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A collage representing the diverse projects discussed during Family Archiving Workshops in pandemic 2020.
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Bring art, science and history together at Lab Culture II Exhibition in National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bengaluru
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Works of Late Architect Hema Sankalia at CEPT Archives.