On a Wednesday evening, while everybody was grappling with midweek blues, the name of Indian architect Balakrishna Doshi was etched on the Pritzker Prize- a prestigious award in the field of architecture. In the four-decade history of the Pritzker Prize, an award which has faced criticism earlier for its lack of diversity, Doshi is the first Indian to receive this award.
Born in Pune, B.V Doshi began his architectural education the same year India won its independence. Having graduated from Mumbai, Doshi joined Le Corbusier in Paris in the early 1950’s and later returned to India to oversee Corbusier’s plan for Chandigarh and a few other projects in Ahmedabad. Doshi also collaborated with Louis Kahn on designing the prestigious Indian Institute of Management’s campus in Ahmedabad, following which Doshi founded his own practice, Vastu-Shilpa Consultants in 1956. Known as the institution builder, Doshi went on to design two more IIMs (Bangalore and Lucknow), the National Institute Of Fashion Technology Delhi, and CEPT University in Ahmedabad amongst many others.
Coming from a family of furniture makers, 90-year-old Doshi has devoted over seven decades to shaping the face of modern architecture and urban planning in India, with a deep understanding of local crafts, traditions, the environment and rapidly changing times in the country. With over 100 finished projects of varying scales, one of his most iconic projects has been the Aranya Low-Cost Housing project in the city of Indore. Developed in 1989, Aranya housing is a network of houses, courtyards, and pathways providing proper dwelling to over 80,000 people in the low to middle income bracket. This project also won Doshi the 1993-1995 Aga Khan Award for Architecture.
Regarded as the profession’s equivalent to the Nobel Prize, the award will recognize his contribution over a career spanning more than 60 years. Prize money to the tune of $100,000 and a bronze medallion will be presented to Doshi at the 2018 Pritzker Architecture Prize ceremony on 16th May at the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, Canada.