Balkrishna Vithaldas Doshi is no ordinary man. The 90-year-old master architect recently became the first Indian to be awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize also known as ‘Nobel for Architects’, the highest honour in the field of architecture. Doshi has also received Padma Shri by the Government of India in 1976.
He is the pioneer of evolving architectural designs in India. Over a spectacular carrier of 70 long years, Doshi has contributed numerous designs and shaped the Indian architecture since the times of Indian Independence. His noteworthy designs include the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore and Aranya Low-Cost Housing in Indore.
A Brief Biography
Born in Pune, India, in 1927 into a family that had been involved in the furniture industry for two generations, Doshi was exposed to architecture at an early age. In 1947, he joined the prestigious Sir J.J. School of Architecture Bombay (Mumbai). After that, he moved to Paris to work under Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier.
He returned to India in 1954 to oversee Le Corbusier’s projects in Chandigarh and Ahmedabad. Thus began his journey to rebuild and reshape the Indian Architecture. In 1962, Doshi worked with Louis Kahn as an associate to design the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, country’s foremost management college.
In 1978, he established Vastushilpa Foundation for Studies and Research in Environmental Design aimed at providing designs incorporating sustainable practices. He was also the Founder, former Director and former Chairman of the School of Architecture and Planning, renamed CEPT University in 2002.
The Work Speaks Volume
The magnificent designs by Doshi need no author for description. The eyes tell it all. The maker’s artistic vision is evident by a range of spectacularly designed buildings all over India. The strength of Doshi’s designs lies in its simplicity and solemnity.
His buildings are an embodiment of a blend of modernity and Indian traditions in harmony with the environment and its inhabitants. His art draws inspiration from the smallest elements of Indian designs.
The jury of 2018 Pritzker Architecture stated, “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.” The Jury continues, “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.”
Every Design Tells a Story
Apart from Pritzker Award, Doshi has been awarded numerous awards. He was awarded the prestigious Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 1996 for Aranya Low-Cost Housing in Indore, a township built in a sustainable manner.
Sangath, his office in Ahmedabad is a work of pure art. With a vaulted roof and sunken design, the building is easy to spot. Energy-related elements and recycled materials are incorporated in the construction. Space walls, passive solar design along with Beautiful landscaping makes it a unique design.
Designed in 1966, Tagore Hall in Ahmedabad is also a brilliant brainchild of Doshi. With a capacity of 700, it is located on the banks of Sabarmati River.
Sawai Gandharva Smarak, built in his hometown of Pune is a stunning design made for classrooms and music. The building has a modern aura but the traces of traditions can be found. The building is designed in such a way that one can easily get lost in it, mentally and physically.
The prestigious IIM Bangalore also one of Doshi’s notable work. The whole campus appears as monumental, airy and light. “My lighting is different from that of Corbusier and Louis Kahn. Contrast IIM Bangalore with that of Kahn at Ahmedabad, IIM B is more like walking through a garden,” he said.
The simple yet intricate designs of Doshi are well thought of and well planned. His work is appreciated both nationally and internationally. He has been a visiting professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, University of Illinois, Rice University, Houston and University of Hong Kong among others.
The art of putting the visual power on paper and then constructing a labyrinth out of it is efficiently mastered by Doshi. A famous quote by Doshi states “Design is nothing but a humble understanding of materials, a natural instinct of solutions and respect for nature.”