Pritzker Prize 2018: BV Doshi becomes first-ever Indian to win the 'Nobel for architects'

Reputed Indian architect Balkrishna Doshi (or BV Doshi), known for designing iconic buildings such as Amdavad ni Gufa and IIM Bangalore, has become the first-ever Indian to win the Pritzker Prize.

Regarded as equivalent to Nobel Prize in architecture, the award was given to Doshi to recognise his contribution to the field in a career spanning over 60 years, the jury citation of the celebrated award read.

File image of Balakrishna Doshi. Wikimedia Commons

File image of Balakrishna Doshi. Sanyam Bahga/ Wikimedia Commons

"Balkrishna Doshi has always created an architecture that is serious, never flashy or a follower of trends," said the Pritzker jury, which said Doshi "has continually exhibited the objectives" of architecture's highest honor.

"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," it further read.

The international prize, established by Chicago's Pritzker family in 1979, bestows laureates with $100,000 along with a bronze medallion.

Doshi, one of the last living architects to have apprenticed with the Franco-Swiss trailblazer Le Corbusier, is known to build low-cost housing and public institutions.

The Center for Environmental Planning and Technology, IIM Bangalore, Aranya Low Cost Housing, and Tagore Memorial Hall were some of the structures designed by him. His design for the Aranya Low Cost Housing even received the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 1996, according to an architectural magazine Arch Daily

This particular project has been also been noted as a subject of study for its "unusually sophisticated scheme" and the "social goals" it achieves.

The project sought to replace the grid-like structures usually adopted for affordable housing, to give a "more suitable urban design" and open spaces to promote neighbourliness. Today, the intricate labyrinth of houses, courtyards and internal trails houses some 80,000 low- and middle-class people, with more than 6,500 units ranging from modest one-bedrooms to spacious homes.

He was also significantly involved in the design and planning of the city of Chandigarh.

Doshi said he owed the prestigious prize to his guru Le Corbusier. "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," he said in a statement thanking the Pritzker jury, in which he also cited the influence of Le Corbusier.  

Born in Pune, on 26 August 1927, Doshi has served on the Pritzker Prize Jury from 2005-07, and on selection committees for the Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts and the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, his biography on the award website said.

Exhibiting an aptitude for art and an acute sense of proportion at a young age, Doshi began studying architecture in 1947, the year India gained independence.

Working under Le Corbusier, he returned to his native country in 1954 to oversee two of his Modernist guru's projects in Chandigarh and Ahmedabad. The Indian architect also collaborated with Louis Kahn, another of the 20th century's Modernist giants.

Speaking to CNN after the awards were announcedDoshi (90) spoke of urban housing design and how important such a recognition could prove to India. "I think it is very, very significant that this award has come to India — of course to me, but to India," he said. "The government, officials, those who take decisions, cities — everyone will start thinking that there is something called 'good architecture' (and that) lasting things can happen. (Only) then can we start talking about urbanization and urban design."

"(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. "I took the personal decision that I would work for the 'other half' — I'd work for them and try to empower them," the article quoted him as saying.

"Every object around us, and nature itself -- lights, sky, water and storm -- everything is in a symphony," said Doshi. "This symphony is what architecture is all about."

With inputs from agencies


Updated Date: Mar 08, 2018 01:13 AM

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