Paths Un­charted

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Ar­chi­tect, ur­ban plan­ner, and ed­u­ca­tor for the past 70 years, Balkrishna vithal­das Doshi has been in­stru­men­tal in shap­ing the dis­course of ar­chi­tec­ture through­out in­dia and in­ter­na­tion­ally. Doshi is the 45th Pritzker Prize lau­re­ate and the first to hail from in­dia.

The 90 year old vet­eran, Doshi, as he is fondly called, worked with two icons of the 20th cen­tury - Le Cor­bus­ier and Louis Kahn. His early works were in­flu­enced by these ar­chi­tects as can be seen in the ro­bust forms of con­crete which he em­ployed. How­ever, Doshi took the lan­guage of his build­ings be­yond these early mod­els. With an un­der­stand­ing and ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the deep tra­di­tions of In­dia’s ar­chi­tec­ture, he united pre­fab­ri­ca­tion and lo­cal craft and de­vel­oped a vo­cab­u­lary in har­mony with his­tory, cul­ture, lo­cal tra­di­tions and the chang­ing times of his home coun­try In­dia. He is the re­cip­i­ent of the Padma Shree Na­tional Award, Govern­ment of In­dia (1976). Over the years, Doshi has al­ways cre­ated an ar­chi­tec­ture that is se­ri­ous - never flashy or a fol­lower of trends. Hous­ing as shel­ter is but one as­pect of his re­mark­able ge­nius. The en­tire plan­ning of the com­mu­nity, the scale, the cre­ation of pub­lic, semi-pub­lic and pri­vate spa­ces are a tes­ta­ment to Doshi’s un­der­stand­ing of how cities work.


Doshi’s works have touched the lives of ev­ery so­cioe­co­nomic class, across a broad spec­trum of gen­res since the 1950s. Doshi’s ar­chi­tec­ture ex­plores the re­la­tion­ships be­tween fun­da­men­tal needs of hu­man life and un­der­stand­ing of so­cial tra­di­tions, within the con­text of a place and its en­vi­ron­ment. He de­scribes ar­chi­tec­ture as an ex­ten­sion of the body, and his abil­ity to at­ten­tively ad­dress func­tion while re­gard­ing cli­mate, land­scape, and ur­ban­iza­tion is demon­strated through his choice of ma­te­ri­als, over­lap­ping spa­ces and uti­liza­tion of nat­u­ral and har­mo­niz­ing el­e­ments. Doshi has de­signed a tremen­dous range of build­ings, which in­clude in­sti­tu­tions, mixed-use com­plexes, hous­ing projects, pub­lic spa­ces, gal­leries and pri­vate res­i­dences.“ev­ery ob­ject around us and na­ture it­self is in a sym­phony. And this sym­phony is what ar­chi­tec­ture is all about. My work is the story of my life, con­tin­u­ously evolv­ing, chang­ing and search­ing to take away the role of ar­chi­tec­ture, and look only at life,” ex­plains Doshi


The struc­tures of San­gath (Ahmed­abad, 1980), his ar­chi­tec­ture stu­dio are semi-un­der­ground and to­tally in­te­grated with the nat­u­ral char­ac­ter­is­tics of the site. There is an easy flow of ter­races, re­flect­ing ponds, mounds, and the curved vaults which are distin­guish­ing for­mal el­e­ments. The in­te­rior spa­ces have dif­fer­ent qual­i­ties of light, shapes as well as dif­fer­ent uses, while uni­fied through the use of con­crete. Doshi has cre­ated equi­lib­rium among all the com­po­nents - ma­te­rial and im­ma­te­rial which re­sults in a whole, that is sum of the parts. “San­gath fuses im­ages and as­so­ci­a­tions of In­dian life­styles. The cam­pus is an on-go­ing school where one learns, un­learns and re­learns.

It has be­come a sanc­tu­ary of cul­ture, art and sus­tain­abil­ity where re­search, in­sti­tu­tional fa­cil­i­ties and max­i­mum sus­tain­abil­ity are em­pha­sized,” Doshi re­calls. The Aranya Low Cost Hous­ing presently ac­com­mo­dates over 80,000 in­di­vid­u­als through a sys­tem of houses, court­yards and a labyrinth of in­ter­nal path­ways. Over 6,500 res­i­dences range from mod­est one-room units to spa­cious homes, ac­com­mo­dat­ing low and mid­dlein­come res­i­dents. Over­lap­ping lay­ers and tran­si­tional ar­eas en­cour­age fluid and adapt­able liv­ing con­di­tions, cus­tom­ary in In­dian so­ci­ety. In the case of the Cen­tre for En­vi­ron­ment & Plan­ning (CEPT) Ahmed­abad 1966, us­ing pa­tios, court­yards, and cov­ered walk­ways, Doshi has cre­ated spa­ces to pro­tect from the sun, catch the breezes, that pro­vide com­fort and en­joy­ment in and around the build­ings. Doshi´s ar­chi­tec­ture is both po­etic and func­tional. His so­lu­tion takes into ac­count the so­cial, en­vi­ron­men­tal and eco­nomic di­men­sions, and there­fore his ar­chi­tec­ture is to­tally en­gaged with sus­tain­abil­ity. The In­dian In­sti­tute of Man­age­ment (Ban­ga­lore,1992) in­spired by tra­di­tional maze-like In­dian cities and tem­ples, is or­ga­nized as in­ter­lock­ing build­ings, courts and gal­leries. It also pro­vides a va­ri­ety of spa­ces pro­tected from the hot cli­mate.the scale of ma­sonry and vast cor­ri­dors in­fused with a cam­pus of green­ery al­low vis­i­tors to be si­mul­ta­ne­ously in­doors and out­doors. The mo­saic tile de­tail is echoed in the tor­toise-shell in­spired roof of Am­davad Ni Gufa (Ahmed­abad, 1994), an un­du­lat­ing, cave-like, ferro-ce­ment art gallery, po­si­tioned un­der­ground, fea­tur­ing works of Maq­bool Fida Hu­sain. Vaulted roofs, porce­lain mo­saic tile cov­er­ings, grassy ar­eas and sunken spa­ces mit­i­gate ex­treme heat. Other notable works in­clude cul­tural spa­ces such as Tagore Memo­rial Hall (Ahmed­abad, 1967), the In­sti­tute of In­dol­ogy (Ahmed­abad, 1962), and Premab­hai Hall (Ahmed­abad, 1976); hous­ing com­plexes Vid­hyad­har Na­gar Mas­ter­plan and Ur­ban De­sign (Jaipur, 1984) Life In­sur­ance Cor­po­ra­tion Hous­ing or “Bima Na­gar” (Ahmed­abad, 1973); and pri­vate res­i­dence Ka­mala House (Ahmed­abad, 1963), among many oth­ers.

2018 Pritzker ar­chi­tec­ture Prize Jury ci­ta­tion

This is what the Award Jury had to say: “Balkrishna Doshi con­stantly demon­strates that all good ar­chi­tec­ture and ur­ban plan­ning must not only unite pur­pose and struc­ture but must take into ac­count cli­mate, site, tech­nique, and craft, along with a deep un­der­stand­ing and ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the con­text in the broad­est sense. Projects must go be­yond the func­tional to con­nect with the hu­man spirit through po­etic and philo­soph­i­cal un­der­pin­nings. For his nu­mer­ous con­tri­bu­tions as an ar­chi­tect, ur­ban plan­ner, teacher, for his stead­fast ex­am­ple of in­tegrity and his tire­less con­tri­bu­tions to In­dia and be­yond, the Pritzker Ar­chi­tec­ture Prize Jury se­lects Balkrishna Doshi as the 2018 Pritzker Lau­re­ate.”


Balkrishna Doshi was born in Pune, In­dia on Au­gust 26, 1927, into an ex­tended Hindu fam­ily that had been in­volved in the fur­ni­ture in­dus­try for two gen­er­a­tions. Dis­play­ing an ap­ti­tude for art and an un­der­stand­ing at a young age, he was ex­posed to ar­chi­tec­ture by a school teacher. He be­gan his ar­chi­tec­ture stud­ies in 1947 at SIRJ.J School of Ar­chi­tec­ture Bom­bay (Mum­bai). Doshi’s am­bi­tion and ini­tia­tive guided piv­otal mo­ments in his life - from board­ing a ship to Lon­don, where he dreamed of join­ing the Royal In­sti­tute of Bri­tish Ar­chi­tects and mov­ing to Paris to work un­der Le Cor­bus­ier. He re­turned to In­dia in 1954 to over­see Le Cor­bus­ier’s projects in Chandi­garh and Ahmed­abad, which in­clude the Mill Owner’s As­so­ci­a­tion Build­ing (Ahmed­abad, 1954) and Shod­han House (Ahmed­abad, 1956), among oth­ers. Be­gin­ning in 1962, Doshi also worked with Louis Kahn as an as­so­ciate, to build the In­dian In­sti­tute of Man­age­ment, Ahmed­abad, and they con­tin­ued to col­lab­o­rate for over a decade. In 1956, Doshi hired two ar­chi­tects and founded his own prac­tice, Vas­tushilpa, which has since been re­named Vas­tushilpa Con­sul­tants and grown to em­ploy five part­ners and sixty em­ploy­ees, and has com­pleted more than 100 projects since its in­cep­tion. He es­tab­lished Vas­tushilpa Foun­da­tion for Stud­ies and Re­search in En­vi­ron­men­tal De­sign in 1978, to evolve in­dige­nous de­sign and plan­ning stan­dards. To­day, it serves as an ef­fec­tive link be­tween aca­demics and pro­fes­sional con­sul­tants. Doshi was Founder, for­mer Direc­tor and for­mer Chair­man of the School of Ar­chi­tec­ture and Plan­ning (Ahmed­abad, 1966-2012), which was re­named CEPT Univer­sity in 2002. He is cur­rently Dean at Emer­i­tus and con­tin­ues to re­side in Ahmed­abad. Doshi was a mem­ber of the In­ter­na­tional Com­mit­tee for pre­par­ing the In­ter­na­tional Char­ter on the Ed­u­ca­tion of Ar­chi­tects, spon­sored by In­ter­na­tional Union of Ar­chi­tects in as­so­ci­a­tion with UNESCO (1995). He has been a vis­it­ing pro­fes­sor at Mas­sachusetts In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy; Univer­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia, Philadel­phia; Univer­sity of Illi­nois, Ur­bana Cham­paign; Rice Univer­sity, Houston; Wash­ing­ton Univer­sity in St. Louis; and Univer­sity of Hong Kong, among oth­ers. Doshi is a Fel­low of the Royal In­sti­tute of Bri­tish Ar­chi­tects and the In­dian In­sti­tute of Ar­chi­tects, and an Honorary Fel­low of the Amer­i­can In­sti­tute of Ar­chi­tects. He served on the Pritzker Prize Jury from 20052007, and on se­lec­tion com­mit­tees for the In­dira Gandhi Na­tional Cen­tre for Arts and the Aga Khan Award for Ar­chi­tec­ture. Con­tent Cour­tesy: Pritzker Ar­chi­tec­ture Prize Photo cour­tesy: VSF

Cept ahmed­abad

am­davad ni gufa


in­dian in­sti­tute of man­age­ment, Ban­ga­lore

Balkrishna Doshi with le Cor­bus­ier

Balkrishna Doshi with louis Kahn

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