Texas Tech University

Joseph Aranha

Professor
College of Architecture

Joseph Aranha

Learn more about Integrated Scholar Joseph Aranha in this question-and-answer session.

What are your research objectives and interests?

My research interests are in continuity and change in traditional built environments in non-western societies. It involves study of the relationships of culture and architecture, and it deals with documenting and understanding the meaning of architectural forms and how the built environment and architectural form—particularly in traditional societies—are shaped by physical context, belief systems, social order, gender, life style and other aspects of culture.

How do you feel your research impacts the globe?

Traditional built environments in non-western societies have been altered by forces such as colonization, modernization, war and rapid and unprecedented rates of urbanization. Some have already disappeared. More recently, the influence of globalization and economic change has created built environments that are starting to look the same no matter what part of the world they are in. It is therefore important to learn from these traditional environments before they are transformed by these forces of change. Studying them helps in finding ways to preserve, understand and learn from them. The study of traditional architecture can impact the globe by also leading to ideas for new environmentally sustainable architecture that can be modern, but which can also provide regional, national and cultural identity in the built environment.

What types of service projects have you been involved with?

I have been a recipient of two traditional long-term Fulbright scholar grants and one short-term Fulbright Specialist project award. While research is one of the components of these awards, they also have allowed me to get involved with teaching that has included interactions with local communities, both rural and urban. Via these interactions, I have been able to be of service to new architecture schools and students in countries such as Zimbabwe, Ethiopia and India. My teaching has provided opportunities for students to work with local communities, not only by helping to redevelop or improve them but to also learn from local vernacular building traditions. Closer to home, I have been able to use my experiences and the knowledge gained from working in these countries to also work with redevelopment proposals in lower income neighborhoods in East Lubbock and to also develop multicultural study abroad experiences for Texas Tech students.

What are you currently working on?

I am currently working on publishing material on traditional Ethiopian stone houses and on recent architecture in Southeast Asia. Meanwhile, I am also very much occupied with study abroad programs and courses through which I am using my experience and ability to work and collaborate with other cultures to provide students with experiences that give them exposure to built environments and cultures different from their own and from which they can not only learn about architectural and urban design but during which they can also interact with and learn from local students, faculty and architects in another country.

Where do you find your inspiration?

I am inspired through travel and the experience of the variety of different places and traditional built environments around the world.

What advice do you have for new faculty members about balancing the components of Integrated Scholarship—teaching, research, and service—in their careers?

Seek research and service opportunities that allow one to be engaged in topics or projects that one enjoys and for which one has a passion for in one's field of study. Find ways to bring those issues or interests into the classroom and into courses that one may teach.

Scholar background:

Professor Joe Aranha is originally from Bangalore, India. He obtained a professional Bachelor of Architecture degree at the Indian Institute of Technology in Kharagpur, India and a Master of Architecture from Iowa State University. He has worked in India, Malaysia, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia and more. His research interests in continuity and change in traditional architecture have lead him to megacities as well as remote towns and villages in North and Sub Saharan Africa, Asia, South East Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Latin America. He has developed and directed faculty-led study abroad programs that involve academic collaborations for Texas Tech students in Spain, Mexico and India. Professor Aranha has contributed entries to the Encyclopedia of Vernacular Architecture of the World, has published and presented his research at international conferences and has lectured at universities in many parts of the world. He is a two-time Fulbright Scholar and a one-time Fulbright Specialist.