By Vrinda Saxena
Indian architect Balkrishna Doshi won the coveted Pritzker Architecture Prize on March 7, becoming the first Indian to receive the award considered the architectural Nobel. Doshi, 90, in a career spanning over sixty years, has been a pioneer in providing low-cost housing and sustainable architecture to Indians.
His notable works include academic institutions like Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology, Ahmedabad, cultural spaces such as Tagore Memorial Hall and Premabhai Hall in Ahmedabad and housing complexes such as the Life Insurance Corporation Housing or ‘Bima Nagar’. Doshi has always been committed to incorporating Indian heritage into his designs, for instance, the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore has been inspired by the traditional maze-like structure of Indian cities and temples. He is also well known for his Aranya housing development in Indore, a low-cost housing project which was designed in 1989 and awarded the Aga Khan Award for Architecture.
The citation of the Jury released upon the announcement of the award stated Doshi’s commitment to contribute to his country and its people. “His solutions take into account the social, environmental and economic dimensions, and therefore his architecture is totally engaged with sustainability,” stated the release.
An alumnus of J.J. School of Architecture, Mumbai, he has several accreditations to his name including the Padma Shri, Officer of the Orders of Arts and Letters of France, Global Award for Lifetime Achievement for Sustainable Architecture and Institut Francais d’Architecture, Paris, among many others.
“My works are an extension of my life, philosophy and dreams trying to create treasury of the architectural spirit,” said Doshi in a press release. “I owe this precious award 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.”
The Pritzker award was founded in 1979 by Jay Pritzker and his wife and is funded by the Pritzker family and sponsored by the Hyatt Foundation. “The life’s work of Balkrishna Doshi truly underscores the Prize- demonstrating the art of architecture and an invaluable service to humanity,” said Pritzker in a press release congratulating the laureate. The prize ceremony will take place at the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, Canada, this May.
Here are some of his famous works: