Balkrishna Doshi, the 90-year-old Indian architect has been named the winner of the 2018 Pritzker prize, the highest accolade in architecture. Doshi is one of India’s most influential architects of the 20th century, he is the 45th recipient of the Pritzker Prize and the first ever Indian to receive it.
Born in 1927, into a family that had been involved in the furniture industry for over two generations, Doshi studied architecture in Mumbai, India. He travelled to Paris in the year 1951 to work for Le Corbusier, regardless of having any knowledge of French. He returned to India in 1954 to manage Corbusier’s projects in Chandigarh and Ahmedabad.
Accredited for influencing the architectural discourse in India and worldwide, Doshi was selected for his ability to understand architecture and transform it into built works that respect eastern culture while enhancing the quality of living in India. Over a straddling career of nearly six decades, Doshi turned out to be one of the most influential architects of post-independence India, who beautifully blends international and modernist principles with local traditions in each of his work.
According to the Pritzker jury, “Balkrishna Doshi has always created an architecture that is serious, never flashy or a follower of trends”. They further added, “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”.
Among a mammoth range of works over the years, some of Doshi’s most influential works are:
- Aranya Low Cost Housing (Indore, 1989)
- The Indian Institute of Management (Bangalore, 1977–1992)
- His personal studio Sangath (Ahmedabad, 1980)
- Amdavad Ni Gufa (Ahmedabad, 1994)
- The Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology (CEPT University) (Ahmedabad, 1966–2012)
Thanking the jury members Doshi said his works “are an extension of my life, philosophy and dreams trying to create treasury of the architectural spirit”. “Every object around us, and nature itself – lights, sky, water and storm – everything is in a symphony.”
In recognition of his notable contribution as a professional and as an academician, Doshi has received several national and international awards and honours like:
- Padma Shri, Government of India, 1976
- Honorary doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania.
- France’s highest honour for arts the ‘Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters’, 2011
- 6th Aga Khan Award for Architecture for Aranya Community Housing, 1993-1995
Doshi dedicates his Pritzker prize to his guru, Le Corbusier. He said, “His teachings led me to question identity and compelled me to discover new regionally adopted contemporary expression for a sustainable holistic habitat.” He also humbly expressed his thanks to the judging panel for recognizing his work.
Doshi will be awarded $100,000 (£80,591) at a ceremony in Toronto in the month of May.
The previous list of Pritzker winners includes Rafael Aranda, Carme Pigem and Ramon Vilalta of RCR Arquitectes, Spain (2017), Alejandro Arevana of ELEMENTAL, Chile (2016), Frei Otto, Germany (2015) and Shigeru Ban of Shigeru Ban Architects, Japan (2014).
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