Nonagenarian Balkrishna Doshi has become the first Indian to win the Pritzker Architecture Prize, regarded as architecture’s Nobel. He has been recognised for his exceptional architecture that respects Eastern culture and enhances the quality of living in India.
Considered to be among India’s foremost architects, his creations include the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Bangalore; the Tagore Memorial Hall in Ahmedabad; and the Aranya Low Cost Housing project that is home to nearly 80,000 people in Indore, Madhya Pradesh.
Balkrishna Doshi, who is the 45th Laureate of the Pritzker Prize established by the Hyatt Foundation in 1979, also established the School of Architecture and Planning in Ahmedabad, Gujarat (later renamed CEPT University).
- Born – 26 August 1927, Pune, India
- Education – JJ School of Architecture, Mumbai
- Early Experience – As an apprentice with Le Corbusier in Paris
- First project – Chandigarh, as part of Le Corbusier’s team
- Own venture – Vastushilpa, founded in 1956; now known as Vastushilpa Consultants
Balkrishna Doshi learned from of the biggest architects of the 20th century, including Le Corbusier, who designed the modern city of Chandigarh, and Louis Kahn.
Doshi worked as an apprentice to Corbusier in Paris, France, in the early fifties. When Corbusier was selected to design Chandigarh, Doshi too was actively involved in the process, envisaging the government spaces that needed to be built to house government employees.
He later moved on to establish his own practice in Ahmedabad, coming up with over 100 signature creations across India.
Creating Architecture That Is Personal
Announcing the award, Pritzker had this to say about Doshi.
“Infused with lessons from Western architects before him, he forged his artistic vision with a deep reverence for life, Eastern culture, and forces of nature to create an architecture that was personal,” the Pritzker organization said.
“Alongside a deep respect for Indian history and culture, elements of his youth—memories of shrines, temples, and bustling streets; scents of lacquer and wood from his grandfather’s furniture workshop—all find a way into his architecture,” it added.
Nothing explains Doshi’s creativity and vision better than Sangath, his architecture studio in Ahmedabad that has been described as one of his most personal endeavours.
“Sangath fuses images and associations of Indian lifestyles. The campus integrates, and memories of places visited collide, evoking and connecting forgotten episodes. Sangath is an ongoing 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,” Pritzker quoted him as saying.
The citation for the prize says that Doshi, with an understanding and appreciation of the deep traditions of India’s architecture, “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”.
President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi were among those who congratulated him on Twitter.
Congratulations to Balkrishna Doshi for becoming the first Indian to be awarded the Pritzker Prize, the premier global award for architecture. Dr Doshi’s contributions to our cityscape, our sense of aesthetics and to low-cost housing efforts make us proud #PresidentKovind
— President of India (@rashtrapatibhvn) March 8, 2018
Congratulations to renowned architect Balkrishna Doshi for winning the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize. This honour is a fitting recognition of his outstanding work, which has spanned decades and made a notable contribution to society. https://t.co/vhKGegfeCv
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) March 7, 2018