Indian architect Balkrishna Doshi is 2018 Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate

Architect, urban planner, and educator Balkrishna Doshi has been announced as the 2018 Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate, becoming the 45th recipient of the prize, and the first architect from India to receive the accolade.

Doshi, who is 90 years old this year, has been practicing architecture for the past 70 years, beginning his career in the 1950s, working with renown architects of the 20th century such as Le Corbusier and Louis Khan. His architecture pays homage to eastern culture with an intention of enhancing the quality of life in India. He is highly regarded for his ethical and personal approach to the field, creating works across various industries and genres.

Balkrishna Doshi with Le Corbusier (Photo courtesy of VSF)

“My works are an extension of my life, philosophy and dreams trying to create treasury of the architectural spirit. I owe this prestigious prize to my guru, Le Corbusier. His teachings led me to question identity and compelled me to discover new regionally adopted contemporary expression for a sustainable holistic habitat,”  Doshi said.

“With all my humility and gratefulness I want to thank the Pritzker Jury for this deeply touching and rewarding recognition of my work. This reaffirms my belief that, ‘life celebrates when lifestyle and architecture fuse’,” he added.

Balkrishna Doshi with Louis Kahn (Photo courtesy of VSF)

Social traditions, context, and environment play a vital role in Doshi’s architecture, which explores the relationships between the fundamental needs of human life, connectivity to self, and culture as a response to the Modernism tradition of architecture.

Describing architecture as an extension of the body, his body of work reflect human experiences- from childhood memories and the rhythms of the weather, to the ringing of temple bells. Through these sensations, Doshi addresses functionality with regards to climate, landscape, and urbanisation which is also demonstrated through his choice of materials, overlapping spaces, and utilisation of natural and harmonising elements.

Doshi in his studio, Sangath (Photo courtesy of VSF)

“Professor Doshi has said that ‘Design converts shelters into homes, housing into communities, and cities into magnets of opportunities,” said Tom Pritzker, chairman of Hyatt Foundation.

“The life’s work of Balkrishna Doshi truly underscores the mission of the Prize—demonstrating the art of architecture and an invaluable service to humanity. I am honored to present the 40th anniversary of this award to an architect who has contributed more than 60 years of service to us all,” he added.

The jury commented on Doshi’s work over the years, describing it as a 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 said.

“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.”

Aranya Low Cost Housing (Indore, 1989)

Some of Doshi’s notable works include the Aranya Low Cost Housing (Indore, 1989), which accommodates over 80,000 individuals through a system of houses, courtyards, and a labyrinth of internal pathways. Featuring over 6,500 residences, the rooms range from one-room units to spacious homes, accomodating low and middle-income residents. The architecture features overlapping layers and transitional areas which that encourages fluid and adaptable living conditions customary in Indian tradition.

Image courtesy of MIT.

Other projects includes The Indian Institute of Management (Bangalore, 1977-1992) which is inspired by traditional maze-like Indian cities and temples and is organised as interlocking structures, courts, and galleries. The project blurs the lines between indoor and outdoor spaces through the use of vast corridors that are infused with elements of greenery, as well as providing spaces that protect visitors from the hot climate.

Photography by Nicholas Iyadurai.

Doshi has also designed his own practice Sangath’s (which translates to ‘moving together’) studio in Ahmedabad in India, which includes communal spaces, a garden, and outdoor amphitheatre: elements that highlight the architect’s regard for collaboration and social responsibility.

“Every object around us, and nature itself—lights, sky, water and storm—everything is in a symphony,” explained Doshi. “And this symphony is what architecture is all about. My work is the story of my life, continuously evolving, changing and searching…searching to take away the role of architecture, and look only at life.”

The 2018 Pritzker Architecture Prize ceremony will take place at the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, Canada in May of this year.

Last year’s Pritzker Prize was awarded to Catalan architects Rafael Aranda, Carme Pigem and Ramon Vilalta of RCR Arquitectes, who have recently completed their first project in the Middle East: the Muraba Residences located on Dubai’s Palm Jumeirah.

 

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