Give Living a Chance: Balkrishna Doshi
The Ahmedabad-based distinguished architect is among the rare people to have been awarded both the Royal Gold Medal and the Pritzker Architecture Prize in their lifetime
Ahmedabad, May 12: Sultan Ahmed Shah was the founder of Ahmedabad city. But, Balkrishna Doshi
a professional from the sheer magic of his vision and planning carved a new name and identity to this important city of India.
Adding another feather to his cap and making our country proud, acclaimed architect Balkrishna Doshi, who is credited with designing some of the most iconic structures in Ahmedabad, was on Tuesday conferred the prestigious Royal Gold Medal 2022, one of the world’s highest honours for architecture.
Doshi, 94, is the only one from India and among the rare people globally to have been awarded both the Royal Gold Medal and the Pritzker Architecture Prize, often referred to as the Nobel Prize of architecture, in their lifetime. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan, the third-highest civilian award in India, in 2020, for his contribution to the field of architecture.
Doshi was awarded three Honorary Doctorate by prestigious international universities including latest from the Boston Architectural College, USA in 2021. He is also the recipient of the French ‘Global Award for Lifetime Achievement for Sustainable Architecture’ by the Institut Francais d’architecture, Paris.
Given in recognition of a lifetime’s work, the Royal Gold Medal is approved personally by Queen Elizabeth and is given to people who have had a significant influence on the advancement of architecture.
“I am pleasantly surprised and deeply humbled to receive the Royal Gold Medal from the Queen of England. What a great honour! The news of this award brought back memories of my time working with Le Corbusier in 1953 when he had just received the news of getting the Royal Gold Medal. I vividly recollect his excitement on receiving this honour. Today, six decades later, I feel truly overwhelmed to be bestowed with the same award as my guru, Le Corbusier – honouring my six decades of practice. I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to my wife, my daughters and most importantly my team and collaborators at Sangath, my studio,” said Doshi.
The 2022 Honours Committee that selected the Royal Gold Medallist was chaired by The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) President Simon Allford and comprised architects Alison Brooks and last year’s Royal Gold Medal recipient Sir David Adjaye OBE, architect and academic Kate Cheyne, and cultural historian and museum director Dr Gus Casely-Hayford OBE.
RIBA President Simon Allford, said, “It was an honour and a pleasure to chair the committee in selecting Balkrishna Doshi as the 2022 Royal Gold Medallist. At 94, he has influenced generations of architects through his delightfully purposeful architecture. Influenced by his time spent in the office of Le Corbusier, his work nevertheless is that of an original and independent thinker. His outstanding contribution to the art of architecture, the craft of construction and the practice of urban design establish him as a most deserving recipient of this award.”
In a career spanning seven decades and over 100 projects, Doshi has influenced the direction of architecture in India and its adjacent regions through both his practice and his teaching. His buildings combine pioneering modernism with vernacular, informed by a deep appreciation of the traditions of India’s architecture, climate, local culture, and craft. His projects include administrative and cultural facilities, housing developments and residential buildings. He has become internationally known for his visionary urban planning and social housing projects, as well as his work in education, both in India and as a visiting professor at universities around the world.
Born in 1927 in Pune to an extended family of furniture makers, Doshi studied at the JJ School of Architecture, Bombay, before working for four years with Le Corbusier as Senior Designer (1951-54) in Paris and four more years in India to supervise projects in Ahmedabad. He worked with Louis Kahn as an associate to build the IIM, Ahmedabad, and they continued to collaborate for over a decade. He founded his own practice, Vastushilpa in 1956 with two architects. Today, Vastushilpa is a multi-disciplinary practise with five partners spanning three generations and has sixty employees.
Some of his key projects include the Shreyas Comprehensive School Campus, Ahmedabad (1958-63); Atira Guest House, Ahmedabad(1958); The Institute of Indology, Ahmedabad (1962); Ahmedabad School of Architecture (1966 – renamed CEPT University in 2002); Tagore Hall & Memorial Theatre, Ahmedabad (1967); Premabhai Hall, Ahmedabad (1976); IIM Bangalore (1977-1992); Kanoria Centre for Arts, Ahmedabad (1984); Aranya Low Cost Housing, Indore (1989); and Amdavad ni Gufa (1994).
“Give Living a Chance” has been the most important aspect of Doshi’s stupendous architectural journey Balkrishna Doshi. He believed in people’s relations and surroundings to mere walls and designs of architecture. It is very important to understand the surroundings and to relate to who is living or what is the building meant for before we make architectural entity. No wonder that his exemplary low cost Housing project “Aranya” at Indore (1989) and rest of his outstanding projects have brought laurels and awards for him.