Balkrishna Doshi Becomes the First Indian to Be Honoured with Pritzker Architecture Prize

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Image source: pragativadi.com

Often called the architecture fraternity’s “Nobel Prize”, the Pritzker Architecture Prize goes to Pune-born, Ahmedabad-based architect Balkrishna Doshi, fondly known by the people of India as BV Doshi.

BV Doshi believes that the role of architecture extends far beyond the building. Its role is to bring communities together, to combine elements of sunlight and nature, in harmony with culture. The urban planner and educator has spent more than seven decades in the industry and is being bestowed with the Pritzker Architecture Prize this year in recognition of his astounding talent and many contributions over the years, making him the first Indian architect to get the prize. The monumental prize has been given previously to renowned architects like Frei Otto, Alejandro Aravena, Zaha Hadid, IM Pei and Jean Nouvel. In his nonagenarian years today, Doshi will travel to Toronto in May 2018 to receive the honour and deliver a speech about his journey.

Doshi received firsthand tutelage and encouragement from leading architects like Le Corbusier, Louis Kahn and Anant Raje. The Pritzker Prize is a much-deserved recognition of his vision and commitment, his sustainable modernist aesthetics that gave birth to an architecture in India that respects our cultural sense of aesthetics. His high-quality institutional designs, responsible low-cost housing projects, non-ostentatious private houses, and authentically designed public spaces have touched the lives of millions of people from a wide socio-economic range.

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Doshi studied architecture at JJ School of Architecture, Mumbai. A Padma Shri laureate, he hailed from a family that had been working in the furniture industry since generations. He was therefore conscious about arts and proportions since a very tender age and later dreamed of joining the Royal Institute of British Architects and even went to London, where he met the iconic architect Le Corbusier. He returned to India to keep an eye on Corbusier’s projects in Chandigarh, and on his ATMA House and Shodhan House in Ahmedabad. He later became associated with American architect Louis Kahn during the construction of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad. He continued his journey in designing spaces, founding his practice in environmental design, called Vastu Shilpa, in 1956. The firm has more than 60 employees today, who have cumulatively developed around 100 projects, including the IIMs of Bangalore and Udaipur.

Doshi was a fierce educator, founding the Centre for Environmental Planning, Ahmedabad, in 1966. The jury of Pritzker particularly noted his designs in Ahmedabad for the Life Insurance Corporation Housing, Sangath Architect Studios, Amdavad Ni Gufa, the Institute of Indology, Premabhai Hall and his own residence Kamala House. Other notable works are Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore, Aranya Low-Cost Housing in Indore, which has already won the Aga Khan Award, and Vidhyanagar Masterplan.

It’s a proud moment for Ahmedabad and for India’s architecture fraternity.

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