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BV Doshi becomes first Indian to win Pritzker Prize

Balkrishna doshi  courtesy of vsf
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Indian architect, urban planner, and educator Balkrishna Vithaldas (BV) Doshi has won the 2018 Pritzker Prize for ‘deeply personal, responsive, and meaningful’ architecture.

JURY CITATION • JURY MEMBERS • TIMELINE OF PREVIOUS WINNERS

The jury said the 90-year-old had been ‘instrumental in shaping the discourse of architecture throughout India and internationally’.

Born in Pune in 1927, Doshi is the oldest ever recipient of the prize, which is regarded as the highest accolade in international architecture and is worth $100,000 (£72,000). He is also the first winner from India.

Doshi spent three years working for ‘his guru’ Le Corbusier in Paris (1951-1954) and collaborated with Louis Kahn and Anant Raje on the design of the campus of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, completed in 1974.

During his lengthy career, Doshi has built more than 100 buildings. His most famous works include the maze-like Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore (1977-1992) and the 6,500-home Aranya Low Cost Housing in Indore (1989).

Reacting to winning the prize, Doshi said: ‘My works are an extension of my life, philosophy and dreams trying to create a 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.

‘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.’

In 2016 the AJ’s sister publication The Architectural Review ran a retrospective looking at Doshi, his work and his architectural ethos.

Tom Pritzker, chairman of the Hyatt Foundation which sponsors the award, said: ‘Doshi has said that “design converts shelters into homes, housing into communities, and cities into magnets of opportunities”. His life work truly underscores the mission of the prize: demonstrating the art of architecture and an invaluable service to humanity.’

Doshi will receive the accolade at a ceremony at the Aga Khan Museum, Toronto, Canada on 4 April.

Now in its 42nd year, the annual award has previously been won by Frei Otto, Norman Foster, Oscar Niemeyer, Zaha Hadid, Shigeru Ban and Peter Zumthor. 

Aranya low cost housing courtesy of vsf

Aranya Low Cost Housing Indore, India (1989)

Source: VSF

Aranya Low Cost Housing Indore, India (1989)

Jury citation

Doshi has continually exhibited the objectives of the Pritzker Architecture Prize to the highest degree. He has been practising the art of architecture, demonstrating substantial contributions to humanity, for over 60 years. By granting him the award this year, the Pritzker Prize jury recognises his exceptional architecture as reflected in over a hundred buildings he has realised, his commitment and his dedication to his country and the communities he has served, his influence as a teacher, and the outstanding example he has set for professionals and students around the world throughout his long career.

Doshi, as he is fondly called by all who know him, worked with two masters of the 20th century: Le Corbusier and Louis Kahn. Without a doubt, Doshi’s early works were influenced by these architects, as can be seen in the robust forms of concrete which he employed. However, Doshi took the language of his buildings beyond these early models. With an understanding and appreciation of the deep traditions of India’s architecture, he 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.

Doshi has always created an architecture that is serious, never flashy or a follower of trends

Over the years, 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.

Amdavad Ni Gufa, Ahmedabad (1994)

Amdavad Ni Gufa, Ahmedabad (1994)

Source: VSF

Amdavad Ni Gufa, Ahmedabad (1994)

He undertook his first project for low-income housing in the 1950s. Doshi stated in 1954: ‘It seems I should take an oath and remember it for my lifetime: to provide the lowest class with the proper dwelling.’ He fulfilled this personal oath in projects such as Aranya Low-cost Housing at Indore, 1989, in central-west India and the Co-Operative Middle Income Housing, Ahmedabad, India of 1982, and many others. Housing as shelter is but one aspect of these projects. The entire planning of the community, the scale, the creation of public, semi-public and private spaces are a testament to his understanding of how cities work and the importance of the urban design.

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. Using patios, courtyards, and covered walkways, as in the case of the School of Architecture (1966, now part of CEPT) or the Madhya Pradesh Electricity Board in Jabalpur (1979) or the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore (1992), Doshi has created spaces to protect from the sun, catch the breezes and provide comfort and enjoyment in and around the buildings.

1977-92 Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, India (1977-92)

Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, India (1977-92)

Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, India (1977-92)

In the architect’s own studio, called Sangath (Ahmedabad, India, 1980), we can see the outstanding qualities of Balkrishna Doshi’s approach and understanding of architecture. The Sanskrit word Sangath means to accompany or to move together. As an adjective, it embodies that which is appropriate or relevant. The structures are semi-underground and totally integrated with the natural characteristics of the site. There is an easy flow of terraces, reflecting ponds, mounds, and the curved vaults which are distinguishing formal elements. There is variety and richness in the interior spaces that have different qualities of light, different shapes as well as different uses, while unified through the use of concrete. Doshi has created an equilibrium and peace among all the components—material and immaterial—which result in a whole that is much more than the sum of the parts.

The Institute of Indology, Ahmedabad (1962),

The Institute of Indology, Ahmedabad (1962),

Source: VSF

The Institute of Indology, Ahmedabad (1962),

Balkrishna 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. Projects must go beyond the functional to connect with the human spirit through poetic and philosophical underpinnings. For his numerous contributions as an architect, urban planner, teacher, for his steadfast example of integrity and his tireless contributions to India and beyond, the Pritzker Architecture Prize jury selects Balkrishna Doshi as the 2018 Pritzker Laureate.

Jury members 

  • Glenn Murcutt (chair), architect and Pritzker Laureate (2002)
  • Peter Palumbo, architectural patron 
  • Stephen Breyer, US Supreme Court of Justice
  • André Aranha Corrêa do Lago, architectural critic, curator, and Brazilian Ambassador to Japan
  • Richard Rogers, architect and Pritzker Laureate (2007)
  • Sejima Kazuyo, architect and Pritzker Laureate (2010)
  • Benedetta Tagliabue, architect and educator 
  • Ratan Tata, chairman of Tata Sons 
  • Wang Shu, architect, educator and Pritzker Laureate (2012)
  • Martha Thorne, dean, IE School of Architecture and Design

Previous Pritzker Prize winners

Pritzker winners collage

Pritzker winners collage

2018 Balkrishna Vithaldas Doshi (90), India
2017 Rafael Aranda (55) Carme Pigem (54) and Ramon Vilalta (56) of RCR Arquitectes, Spain
2016 Alejandro Aravena (48), Chile
2015 Frei Otto (89), Germany
2014 Shigeru Ban (56), Japan
2013 Toyo Ito (71), Japan
2012 Wang Shu (48), China
2011 Eduardo Souto de Moura (58), Portugal
2010 Kazuyo Sejima (54) and Ryue Nishizawa (44), Japan
2009 Peter Zumthor (65), Switzerland
2008 Jean Nouvel (62), France
2007 Richard Rogers (73), UK
2006 Paulo Mendes da Rocha (77), Brazil
2005 Thom Mayne (61), USA
2004 Zaha Hadid (53), UK
2003 Jorn Utzon (84), Denmark
2002 Glenn Murcutt (66), Australia
2001 Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron (51), Switzerland
2000 Rem Koolhaas (56), Netherlands
1999 Norman Foster (63), UK
1998 Renzo Piano (60), Italy
1997 Sverre Fehn (72), Norway
1996 Rafael Moneo (58), Spain
1995 Tadao Ando (53), Japan
1994 Christian de Portzamparc (50), France
1993 Fumihiko Maki (65), Japan
1992 Alvaro Siza (57), Portugal
1991 Robert Venturi (65), USA
1990 Aldo Rossi, (59), Italy
1989 Frank Gehry (60), USA
=1988 Oscar Niemeyer (81), Brazil
=1988 Gordon Bunshaft (79), USA
1987 Kenzo Tange (73), Japan
1986 Gottfried Bohm (66), Germany
1985 Hans Hollein (51), Austria
1984 Richard Meier (49), USA
1983 IM Pei (66), China
1982 Kevin Roche (60), USA
1981 James Stirling (55), UK
1980 Luis Barragan (78), Mexico
1979 Philip Johnson (73), USA

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