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.
APPROACH TO ARCHITECTURE
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 PIVOTAL PROJECTS
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
amdavad ni gufa
indian institute of management, Bangalore
Balkrishna Doshi with le Corbusier
Balkrishna Doshi with louis Kahn