91-year-old environmental designer and builder – Delia (Didi) Narayan Contractor – passed away peacefully at her home on July 5, 2021. I had the privilege of working closely with her as a junior architect for three years from 2011 to 2014 in Kangra, Himachal Pradesh. She instilled in me an ethos of critical thinking and I owe a lot of my current growth as a critical researcher of the built environment to those formative years under her tutelage. For this, I am forever grateful. Thank you Didi.

Below is a list of key resources about Didi’s work and ideas which might be useful for future students of architecture and the built environment;

Institutional Buildings (can be visited by general public):

Nishtha Rural Health, Education and Environment Centre – Sidhbari, Kangra, Himachal Pradesh

Sambhaavnaa Institute of Public Policy and Politics – Palampur, Kangra, Himachal Pradesh

Dharmalaya Institute for Compassionate Living – Bir, Kangra, Himachal Pradesh

Mandakini ki Awaz (Community Radio Station) – Rudraprayag, Uttarakhand

Films and Videos:

Earth Crusader, directed by Shabnam Sukhdev

Marrying the Earth to the Building, directed by Steffi Giaracuni

Video of Didi Contractor receiving the the Nari Shakti Purushkar Award from the President of India (skip to 4m 30s)

House Of Earth by Priya Sen

Didi Contractor by Amol Chaphalkar


An Adobe Revival: Didi Contractor’s Architecture by Joginder Singh

My Family & Other Saints by Kirin Narayan (a memoir about growing up in Didi’s household written by her anthropologist daughter)

Articles, Features, and Interviews:

Remembering Didi Contractor, a Champion of Indigenous Styles in Built Environments

Traditional architecture: A concrete change is underway

The journey of a Mud Mansion: Reminiscing learnings from Didi Contractor

A Himalayan tragedy: The crisis of contemporary mountain dwellings

Didi Contractor of Sidhbari & her architecture reviving traditional practices

The meeting that never happened: Remembering Didi Contractor

Didi Contractor, champion of low-waste buildings, is no more

The House of Didi

Nari Shakti Puraskar 2018

Didi Contractor: A Self-Taught Architect Who Builds In Mud, Bamboo & Stone

SURFACES REPORTER & WADE ASIA Pays Tribute to Didi Contractor

Mud-house model catches up in Kangra valley

Unto the Earth: Didi Contractor’s oeuvre is a story of rare beauty

दीदी कॉन्ट्रैक्टरः वो आर्किटेक्ट जिन्होंने बिना ट्रेनिंग के वर्ल्ड क्लास इमारतें बना दीं

Self Taught Architect Didi Contractor Passes Away at 91

Didi Contractor – 11 Interesting Things To Know

This Self-Taught Octogenarian Has Been Creating Sustainable Homes for 30 Years!

Meet the octogenarian architect who speaks the language of mud and clay

An octogenarian on a mission to build sustainable homes in mountain terrain, Didi Contractor

Didi Contractor’s Mud Marvels

Our post-Independence cities are so ugly: Didi Contractor

AD100 2019: Didi Contractor

Didi Contractor Receives India’s Highest Civilian Honor for Women

Design that speaks a meaning

Down to Earth: The Mud Architecture of Didi Contractor

Good Hearth

Gandhian architect ‘Didi Contractor’ no more: Was born in America, but made India work land, was awarded the highest Nari Shakti award

Savouring sisterhood in the hills

Jag Niwas (Lake Palace)

Book Review: An Adobe Revival: Didi Contractor’s Architecture by Joginder Singh


An Ode to Didi Contractor

One comment

  1. Himanshu Burte · · Reply

    Thanks, Siddharth, very useful.

    Liked by 1 person

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