This year’s Pritzker jury has selected Indian architect Balkrishna Doshi, often known as B.V. Doshi or Doshi, as the 2018 Pritzker Prize Laureate. Doshi has been a practitioner of architecture for over 70 years. Previously, he had studied and worked with both Le Corbusier and Louis Kahn. Doshi’s poetic architecture draws upon Eastern influences to create a body of work that “has touched lives of every socio-economic class across a broad spectrum of genres since the 1950s,” cites the jury. Doshi is the first Indian architect to receive architecture’s highest honor.
“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,” comments Doshi.
Born in Pune, India in 1927, Doshi began his studies in architecture in the year of his country’s independence, 1947. After a period in London, he moved to France to work under Le Corbusier, and from there he returned to India in order to oversee work on Le Corbusier’s plans for Chandigarh, and on Le Corbusier’s projects in Ahmedabad such as the Mill Owner’s Association Building (1954) and Shodhan House (1956). Doshi also later worked with Louis Kahn on the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad, beginning in 1962.
Since founding his practice Vastushilpa (now known as Vastushilpa Consultants) in 1956, Doshi has combined the lessons learned from these two modern masters with a local sensibility. His distinctly Indian form of critical regionalism synthesizes the sculptural concrete and brick forms of his mentors with recognizably Indian architectural layouts and urban morphologies. One of the clearest manifestations of this style is perhaps his own studio, known as Sangath, where striking concrete barrel vaults are combined with gardens, sunken communal spaces, and water features to mitigate the heat. In 1978, Doshi founded the Vastushilpa Foundation for Studies and Research in Environmental Design to develop planning and design approaches suited to the Indian cultural context; today, the foundation serves as a crucial link between the academy and the architectural profession.
In over 100 projects completed during his career, Doshi has also worked on a number of low-cost housing developments. After completing his first in the 1950s, he stated that “It seems I should take an oath and remember it for my lifetime: to provide the lowest class with the proper dwelling.” The apotheosis of this oath was perhaps the Aranya Low Cost Housing development in Indore. Completed in 1989, this network of houses, courtyards and internal pathways provides housing for over 80,000 people ranging from low- to middle-income families, and won Doshi the 1993-1995 Aga Khan Award for Architecture.
Indian architect Balkrishna Doshi has continually exhibited the objectives of the Pritzker Architecture Prizeto the highest degree. He has been practicing the art of architecture, demonstrating substantial contributions to humanity, for over 60 years. By granting him the award this year, the Pritzker Prize jury recognizes his exceptional architecture as reflected in over a hundred buildings he has realized, 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.
Over the years, Balkrishna 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.
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.
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.
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 Doshias the 2018 Pritzker Laureate.
2018 Pritzker Prize Jury
Glenn Murcutt (Chair): Architect and Pritzker Laureate 2002. Sydney, Australia.
Stephen Breyer: U.S. Supreme Court Justice. Washington, DC.
André Aranha Corrêa do Lago: Current Brazilian Ambassador to Japan.
Lord Peter Palumbo: Architectural patron, Chairman Emeritus of the Trustees, Serpentine Galleries; Former Chairman of the Arts Council of Great Britain. London, England.
Richard Rogers: Architect and Pritzker Laureate 2007. London, England.
Benedetta Tagliabue: Architect and Educator. Barcelona, Spain.
Ratan N. Tata: Chairman Emeritus of Tata Sons, the holding company of the Tata Group. Mumbai, India.
Kazuyo Sejima: Architect and Pritzker Laureate 2010. Japan.
Wang Shu: Architect and Pritzker Laureate 2012. The People’s Republic of China.
Martha Thorne (Executive Director): Dean, IE School of Architecture & Design. Madrid, Spain.