Dilip da Cunha
Professor , Architect and Planner
Dilip da Cunha is an architect and planner based in Philadelphia and Bangalore. He is co-director of the Risk and Resilience program at the Graduate School of Design, Harvard University, and Adjunct Professor at the GSAPP, Columbia University. He is author with Anuradha Mathur of Mississippi Floods: Designing a Shifting Landscape (2001); Deccan Traverses: The Making of Bangalore’s Terrain (2006); Soak: Mumbai in an Estuary (2009); and co-editor of Design in the Terrain of Water (2014). His most recent book, The Invention of Rivers: Alexander’s Eye and Ganga’s Descent, (University of Pennsylvania Press 2019) draws attention to rivers as a consequence of one of the most fundamental acts in the design of human habitation, namely, the separation of land from water. The line with which this separation is imaged on maps, etched in the imagination, and enforced on the ground with regulations and construction has become a naturalized presence. Today, however, with the increasing frequency of flood and, not unrelatedly, sea-level rise attributed to climate change, the line separating land and water has come into sharp focus with proposals for walls, levees, natural defenses, pumps, land retirement schemes, and recommendations for retreat. These responses raise questions on where the line is drawn, but they also raise questions on the separation that this line facilitates. Is this separation found in nature or does nature follow from its assertion? Da Cunha and Mathur are currently working on an exhibition titled ‘Ocean of Rain’ that embraces ubiquitous wetness as an alternative to river landscapes.