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BALKRISHNA DOSHI WINS THE 2018 PRITZKER PRIZE

Go to our blog and watch Doshi, the documentary Premjit Ramachandran made on the first Indian architect to win one of the world's highest accolades in architecture, in recognition of a career spanning almost 70 years, and the commitment of this former Le Corbusier assistant to using architecture as a force for pubic good.

Mainly known for his pioneering design of low-cost housing and public institutions , the now 90-year old Doshi became one of the most influential architects of post-independence India, fusing international modernist principles with local vernacular traditions. Among his most acclaimed projects are Tagore Memorial Hall in Ahmedabad, where he lives and works, and the Aranya Low Cost Housing development, a collection of more than 6,500 residences in the city of Indore."(In India) we talk of housing, we talk of squatters, we talk of villages, we talk of towns -- everybody talks, but who is going to really do something about it?" he asked CNN, when much to his surprise he learned he had been awarded a prize that has previously faced criticism for its lack of diversity, since to date, more than two-thirds of Pritzker Laureates have come from Europe or North America. "I took the personal decision that I would work for the 'other half' „, he continued, referring to his own childhood encounters with extreme poverty, „ I'd work for them and try to empower them. (...) These people have nothing -- no land, no place, no employment. But if the government gives them a little piece of land, they can get a feeling of, 'I'm going to work hard, and find a way to build my own home.' If you put them together as a community, there's cooperation, there's sharing, there's understanding and there's this whole diffusion of religion, caste, custom and occupation."

Aranya Low Cost Housing

BALKRISHNA DOSHI WINS THE 2018 PRITZKER PRIZE
Aranya-Low-Cost-Housing

Life Insurance Corporation Housing

BALKRISHNA DOSHI WINS THE 2018 PRITZKER PRIZE
Life-Insurance-Corportation-Housing
Born in 1927 in Pune, around 100 miles from Mumbai, into a family that had been involved in the furniture industry for two generations, Doshi studied architecture in Mumbai before travelling to Paris in 1951 to work under Le Corbusier, despite having no knowledge of French. He returned to India in 1954 to oversee the celebrated French-Swiss architect's projects in both Chandigarh and Ahmedabad, staying in the latter city to establish his own practice, Vastu Shilpa Consultants, in 1956. „I owe this prestigious prize to my guru, Le Corbusier,” said Doshi on receiving the Pritzker news. “His teachings led me to question identity and compelled me to discover new regionally adopted contemporary expression for a sustainable holistic habitat.” Since he founded his own studio, it has completed more than 100 projects in Ahmedabad and other Indian cities.. Doshi's best-known public buildings also include Madhya Pradesh Electricity Board in Jabalpur, the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore and Ahmedabad's striking School of Architecture, of which he was the founding director. He also worked closely with Louis Kahn on the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad in the 1960s. BALKRISHNA DOSHI WINS THE 2018 PRITZKER PRIZE
Yet whether drawing on Le Corbusier's or Kahn's modernist values or flirting with brutalism in the 1960s, his work also remained devoted to local traditions, humanising modernism’s principles and making them more fitting to the local climate and context. In his own projects, he tried to avoid the gaping voids between buildings of Chandigarh and drew on the more dense, tightly knit street patterns of traditional Indian towns and squatter settlements. He insisted on the need for architecture to “reflect social lifestyles and spiritual convictions” and therefore referred to “constant elements of Indian architecture: the village square, the bazaar, the courtyard”. His Aranya Low Cost Housing for instance, built in Indore in 1989, accommodates more than 80,000 people in a complex of houses courtyards, and public spaces, woven with a labyrinth and intricate network of interconnected passages, with the homes designed with extension and adaptability in mind. Praised for its integration of mixed-income groups.It won the equally prestigious Aga Khan award in 1995.

Aranya Low Cost Housing

BALKRISHNA DOSHI WINS THE 2018 PRITZKER PRIZE
The-Institute-Of-Indology

Life Insurance Corporation Housing

BALKRISHNA DOSHI WINS THE 2018 PRITZKER PRIZE
The-Indian-Institute-Of-Management-In-Bangalore
Doshi's Institute of Management in Bangalore (1977-92) was similarly inspired by maze-like Indian temple cities, organised as a complex of interlocking buildings and galleries, with overlapping shaded areas providing respite from the hot climate. His 1986 plan for Vidhyadhar Nagar, a satellite city of 350,000 people close to the old city of Jaipur, combined utopian modernist planning with ancient Hindu traditions drawing on a nine-square mandala, and fusing it with his own interests in courtyard housing. It also paid particular attention to transitions from the public to private realm and the conservation aspects of wind power, solar orientation, planting and water. Doshi's firm also worked on private residences and art galleries, such as Amdavad ni Gufa, a cavernous subterranean museum with domed roofs that protrude playfully above ground. And one of his most celebrated designs is his own studio, called Sangath, which stands as a compelling microcosm of his ideas - „on the knife edge between industrialism and primitivism,“ as historian William Curtis put it, „between modern architecture and vernacular form.” Sangath means “moving together through participation. It comprises a bold collection of barrel-vaulted buildings that are half-buried in the ground, where they are better protected from heat, dust and monsoons. Made of ceramic pipes, and covered in concrete and broken white tiles, they provide insulation from the sun while shedding water in the rainy season. And with its terraces crossed by channels of water, reflecting pools and a shallow outdoor theatre for gatherings, the complex feels more like a village square than the office of an architecture practice. Doshi has described it as “an ongoing school where one learns, unlearns and relearns”.
BALKRISHNA DOSHI WINS THE 2018 PRITZKER PRIZE
Centre-For-Environmental-Planning
BALKRISHNA DOSHI WINS THE 2018 PRITZKER PRIZE
AmdavadNiGufa
The Pritzker Prize's ten-person judging panel -- chaired by Australian architect and 2002 Laureate, Glenn Murcutt -- highlighted his commitment to Indian architecture."Over the years, Balkrishna Doshi has always created an architecture that is serious, never flashy or a follower of trends," reads the jury statement. "With a deep sense of responsibility and a desire to contribute to his country and its people through high quality, authentic architecture, (…) 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." The school-like quality of his studio should come as no surprise, given that teaching has been at the heart of Doshi’s practice throughout long career. He founded his own school, the Ahmedabad School of Architecture, in the 1960s (now known as Cept University), and steered it for half a century, with a focus on learning from context, and he has been a visiting professor at a number of universities around the world. Directed by Premjit Ramachandran, and dating from 2008, the documentary Doshi illustrates his passion for teaching clearly. It is a conversation piece in 8 chapters, in which the camera follows its protagonist through his designs, while he passionately narrates, recalls and explains his processes of creation, and reveals how he makes his philosophy an intrinsic part of his own life. (mb)

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