Color photograph of an olive skinned man wearing a blue collared shirt, sitting in a garden, and looking at the camera with a serious expression

Ajay Manthripragada

Lily Auchincloss Rome Prize
September 1, 2023–July 5, 2024
Assistant Professor of Architecture, University of California, Berkeley
Project title
Imbrex and Tegula
Project description

The roofs of Rome are blanketed by terracotta tiles formed into two interconnecting shapes: the imbrex (a hollow half-cylinder) and the tegula (a flat unit with raised edges). They work together in overlap to create an impervious roofing assembly, versions of which are seen the world over. This project views the imbrex and tegula type as a means for understanding the interplay of environment, craft, and geopolitics in building materials. My work in Rome will forge a dialogue, through multivalent objects, between ancient and new applications of terracotta in architecture. Drawing on my experience with ceramics, the process will rely on reciprocity between documentation and experimentation. Access to sites of extraction, spaces of manufacture, and local knowledge in Italy will enable comparison with those of India’s Malabar Coast: the former world center of architectural terracotta production and the focus of my ongoing research. This parallel suggests a noncentric positioning of Rome’s influence—as one node in a global network of exchange.

The portrait of Ajay Manthripragada was taken by James Welling.