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Anuradha Mathur – obituary

Laura von Puttkamer
Philadelphia

On the death of Anuradha Mathur: The international landscape architecture community bids farewell to the architect, landscape architect and professor of landscape architecture at the University of Pennsylvania.

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The international landscape architecture community bids farewell to Anuradha Mathur.

On February 26th, 2022, Anuradha Mathur passed away. Born in 1960, the architect and professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Landscape Architecture department was only 61 years old. Anuradha Mathur was based in Philadelphia and Bangalore but has worked all over the world. In her career, she focused on water utilisation and the opportunities of water for resilience-based design.

Anuradha Mathur’s career

Mathur graduated from the Ahmedabad School of Architecture with a bachelor’s in architecture in 1986. Five years later, she earned a Master of Landscape Architecture from the University of Pennsylvania. She frequently worked with Dilip da Cunha on projects of water-centred landscape design. Mathur was also a visiting faculty at Bengal Institute and Professor Emeritus at the Weitzman School auf Design at the University of Pennsylvania.

Anuradha Mathur and Dilip da Cunha presented their work at the Graduate Institute for Design, Ethnography & Social Thought in New York City. The works were also part of the International Federation of Landscape Architects conference in Bangkok and at the ZKM Museum in Karlsruhe. They have also invited others to present their work, for example at the 2011-2012 international symposium “In the Terrain of Water” at PennDesign.

A life dedicated to water

Anuradha Mathur has led studios in Mumbai, Jerusalem, the US-Mexico border, and the Western Ghats of India. Together with Dilip da Cunha, she led a PennDesign team that examined coastal resilience in the Norfolk and Hampton Roads area of coastal Virginia. The project received funding by the Rockefeller Foundation and was called “Structures of Coastal Resilience”.

In their office Mathur / da Cuna, the two landscape architects focused on the theme of water. Their interest lay in the way water is visualized and used, leading to its abundance and scarcity. They also found opportunity in the ubiquity of water in terms of new visualisations of place and resilient design. They focused their artistic and design expertise on cultural and ecological issues in contentious landscapes, coming up with imaginative new designs.

Publications and awards

Together, Mathur and da Cunha have written and co-edited the following publications:

  • Soak: Mumbai in an Estuary (NGMA and Rupa & Co, 2009)
  • Deccan Traverses: The Making of Bangalore’s Terrain (Rupa & Co, 2006)
  • Mississippi Floods: Designing a Shifting Landscape (Yale University Press, 2001)
  • Design in the Terrain of Water (A+RD Publishers, 2014)

The pair have also won many awards. They received the Pew Fellowship Grant 2017, the Architectural League of New York’s Young Architects Award, Penn State University’s John R. Bracken Fellow Award, and also the Geddes Fellowship from the University of Edinburgh. Anuradha Mathur was often invited to present her work and ideas in academic and professional forums all over the world.

Anuradha Mathur also participated in the Biennale of Landscape Architecture in Barchelona. We reported on her innovative research and design methodology in 2016.

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