Dr Megha Chand Inglis
The Bartlett School of Architecture
Faculty of the Built Environment
- Joined UCL
- 1st Dec 2011
My research is focused on the intersection of local genealogies of temple building traditions with global histories of architecture, archaeology, migration, artisanal labour and technology in the context of India across the twentieth and the twenty-first century. Through ethnographic, archival and architectural research, my work explores the intimate relationship between a long temple building tradition of western India, and modernity.
I focus on the lived experience of the modern from the epistemological vantage of temple builders who are located outside the profession of architecture, perceived in architectural discourse as ‘anachronistic’ and ‘non modern’. My work is located within the field of postcolonial studies of South Asian architecture and aims to challenge these notions by including untold stories of protagonists in a creative struggle between ancient and new building and technological practices.
My PhD thesis (2016) funded by Cardiff University explored notions of agility and transculturation in relation to the prolific ‘Sompura’ community of western India which carries an expertise in restoring, designing and producing load bearing carved stone temples for patrons in India and the global diaspora, while drawing on a pre-existing regional architectural and textual lineage stretching to the fifth-century. I am interested in how seemingly traditional builders and artisans negotiate change innovatively, pragmatically, and tactically. I explore how the Sompuras' understanding of themselves is woven into fragments of familial world views on the one hand and colonial, modern, national and global flows on the other.
Between 2015 and 2019, I was Research Associate on a collaborative project (£270, 000) funded by the Leverhulme Trust exploring the transformation of the 'Nagara' tradition of temple architecture of western India over a millennia with colleagues at Cardiff University (PI), Sanskritists at the University of Toronto and conservation architects at the School of Planning and Architecture, Bhopal. My contribution on the project was focussed on the Sompuras' twentieth-century practices through key moments of cultural and political change in India. With the help of living practitioners I examine family held drawings of Amritlal Mulshankar Trivedi (1910-2005), the production of treatises or vastushastras in 1939 by Narmadashankar Muljibhai Sompura (1883-1956), the relation between vastushastras and contemporary architectural practice, the expansion of the temple industry in the 1980s leading to new forms of labour configurations and off site manufacturing sites, and the introduction of modern factories from 1997 deploying digital fabrication technologies.
In 2018, as part of the above project, I led the conceptualization and organization of a two-day symposium titled Indian Temple Architecture and Modernity with colleagues at the School of Oriental and African Studies. I am currently in the process of developing a monograph proposal on the invitation of interested editors for a book series focused on the intersections of Design, Technology, and Society. My work has been published in Industries of Architecture (Routledge: 2016) and the Colombian journal Dearq (2020) in a special issue dedicated to digital technologies for architecture from the Global South. I was winner of the RIBA President's Medal for Part II dissertations in 1999.
I trained as an architect at the TVB School of Habitat Studies New Delhi (1992-95), and at the University of East London (1995-96, 1997-99). I have spent a decade in architectural practice in London on a range of built and unbuilt projects, seeing many of these through to on site completion. Some practices I have worked for are Edward Cullinan Architects (now Cullinan Studio), AAB Architects and Buschow Henley. I have been involved with architectural education since 2004, starting at the School of Architecture, University of East London, where I taught history and theory for three years at Year 3 BSc level. I was appointed as Teaching Fellow at the Bartlett School of Architecture in 2010 and am teaching/have taught on BSc Year 2 and 3, and M Arch Year 1 and 2. Between 2011 and 2013, while pursuing my PhD I taught at the Welsh School of Architecture on the BSc Issues in Contemporary Architecture course. I was visiting lecturer at the School of Architecture and Cities, University of Westminster between 2019 and 2020 in the Cultural Context modules across Year 1,2 and 3. I was appointed as Lecturer at the Bartlett in 2020.
I am Associate Editor of South Asian Studies and have been academic referee for Architecture Beyond Europe, South Asian Studies, and Journal of Architecture. I am on the judging panel for the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain’s James Morris Essay prize. I have been invited as workshop participant by the AHRC to explore the theme of Cultural Identity, Migration, and the Indian Diaspora (2019) to help formulate network grants. I was invited workshop participant for the Race Space and Architecture open access curriculum devised by the LSE (2019).
I have served as external examiner for PhD upgrades at Cambridge University (2020) and have been invited to deliver talks externally such as at the Edinburgh School of Art and Architecture (2018). I have presented my research at a number of UK and international conferences.