Architect Balkrishna Doshi | 2018 Pritzker Prize Laureate

| 16 : 15 – 8 March 2018 |

 


 

 

 


The Pritzker jury announced Indian Architect Balkrishna Doshi as the winner of 2018 Pritzker prize Laureate. Architect, professor and urban planner and fondly called as B. V. Doshi or Doshi, his works spans for a period of 70 years.

He is the first Indian architect to win this prize which is said to be awarded “irrespective of nationality, race, creed, or ideology. The recipients receive US$100,000, a citation certificate, and a bronze medallion.

 

Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore (photo courtesy of VSF)

Born in Pune, India in 1927, he studied architecture at J. J. School of Architecture in Mumbai. Having worked along with 20th century iconic architects Le Corbusier and Louis Kahn. B. V. Doshi is a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects, and has been on the selection committee for the Pritzker Prize, the Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts, and the Aga Khan Award for Architecture. In 2011 he was awarded France’s highest honour for arts the ‘Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters’.

 

Institute of Indology, Ahmedabad, India (photo courtesy of VSF)

 

After working under Le Corbusier in France from 1951-1954 , B.V. Doshi returned to India to oversee Le Corbusier projects for Chandigarh city and  Mill Owner’s Association Building in Ahmedabad. In 1962, he also worked with with Louis Kahn on the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad. Thereafter he established his practice ‘Vastushilpa’ in 1955. The architect’s  impeccable ability of designing responsive architecture specially for the Indian context earned him various awards.  His institution ‘Vastu-Shilpa Foundation for Studies and Research in Environmental Design’ has done commendable work in the field of sustainability and low cost housing projects. ‘Aranya Low Cost Housing development’ project earned him the Aga Khan award for Architecture.

 

Aranya Low Cost Housing (photo courtesy of VSF)

 

Pritzker Jury citation (Press media) –

 

Indian architect Balkrishna Doshi has continually exhibited the objectives of the Pritzker Architecture Prize to the highest degree. He has been practicing the art of architecture, demonstrating substantial contributions to humanity, for over 60 years. By granting him the award this year, the Pritzker Prize jury recognizes his exceptional architecture as reflected in over a hundred buildings he has realized, his commitment and his dedication to his country and the communities he has served, his influence as a teacher, and the outstanding example he has set for professionals and students around the world throughout his long career.

 

Centre for Environmental Planning & Technology, Ahmedabad, India (Photos courtesy of VSF)

 

Doshi, as he is fondly called by all who know him, worked with two masters of the 20th century—Le Corbusier and Louis Kahn. Without a doubt, Doshi’s 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 the history, culture, local traditions and the changing times of his home country India.
Over the years, Balkrishna Doshi has always created an architecture that is serious, never flashy or a follower of trends. With a deep sense of responsibility and a desire to contribute to his country and its people through high quality, authentic architecture, he has created projects for public administrations and utilities, educational and cultural institutions, and residences for private clients, among others.

 

Aranya Low-cost Housing, Indore, India (Photos courtesy of VSF)

 

He undertook his first project for low-income housing in the 1950s. Doshi stated in 1954, “It seems I should take an oath and remember it for my lifetime: to provide the lowest class with the proper dwelling.” He fulfilled this personal oath in projects such as Aranya Low-cost Housing at Indore, 1989, in central-west India and the Co-Operative Middle Income Housing, Ahmedabad, India of 1982, and many others. Housing as shelter is but one aspect of these projects. The entire planning of the community, the scale, the creation of public, semi-public and private spaces are a testament to his understanding of how cities work and the importance of the urban design.

 

Premabhai Hall, Ahmedabad, India (Photos courtesy of VSF)

 

Doshi is acutely aware of the context in which his buildings are located. His solutions take into account the social, environmental and economic dimensions, and therefore his architecture is totally engaged with sustainability. Using patios, courtyards, and covered walkways, as in the case of the School of Architecture (1966, now part of CEPT) or the Madhya Pradesh Electricity Board in Jabalpur (1979) or the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore (1992), Doshi has created spaces to protect from the sun, catch the breezes and provide comfort and enjoyment in and around the buildings.

 

Sangath – B.V. Doshi’s studio, Ahmedabad, India (Photos courtesy of VSF)

 

In the architect’s own studio, called Sangath (Ahmedabad, India, 1980), we can see the outstanding qualities of Balkrishna Doshi’s approach and understanding of architecture. The Sanskrit word Sangath means to accompany or to move together. As an adjective, it embodies that which is appropriate or relevant. The structures 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. There is variety and richness in the interior spaces that have different qualities of light, different shapes as well as different uses, while unified through the use of concrete. Doshi has created an equilibrium and peace among all the components—material and immaterial—which result in a whole that is much more than the sum of the parts.

 

Amdavad Ni Gufa (Photos courtesy of VSF)

 

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.

 

Ceremony Venue –

2018 ceremony will be at Aga Khan Museum, Toronto, Canada
The Aga Khan Museum offers visitors a window into the artistic, intellectual, and scientific contributions of Muslim civilizations to world heritage.It contains artwork and artifacts from the private collection of His Highness the Aga Khan.
Designed by Pritzker Prize winner Fumihiko Maki, the Museum, clad in white granite, opened in 2014. Maki imagined the building as a composition of a series of folded white surfaces that are in dialogue with the nearby Ismaili Centre, Toronto, designed by the late Indian architect Charles Correa who was a member of the Pritzker Prize Jury from 1993 to1998. The two buildings are united by the Aga Khan Park, designed by landscape architect Vladimir Djurovic and includes a series of reflecting pools as well as landscaped gardens.

 

Photo – Gary Otte / Aga Khan Museum

Media text – © The Pritzker Architecture Prize

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