Arquitectura Viva
Sunday, April 05, 2020

Balkrishna Doshi, Pritzker Prize 2018

The President of the Hyatt Foundation has announced the concession of the Pritzker Architecture Prize 2018 to Balkrishna Doshi. Born in Pune in 1927, Doshi is one of the most important figures of modern architecture in Asia and the master and teacher of several generations of Indian architects, aside from link between modernity in Europe and modernity in India.

Trained with Le Corbusier – he worked at his Paris studio for four years and directed his works in India on site –, Doshi also admired the powerful and expressive architecture of Louis Kahn, and from both masters he extracted an energetic and pragmatic repertoire, based on the use of massive materials whose initially severe but always aesthetic forms gradually evolved into a freer organicism more attentive to the material culture and to the socioeconomic conditions of India.

This at once expressive and social organicism is reflected in essential works like the Aranya Low Cost Housing, built in Indore in 1989 to accommodate more than 80,000 people in a labyrinthine pattern based on the use of vernacular courtyards, or like the building considered by critics to be key in his career, the Indian Institute of Management, raised in Bangalore between 1977 and 1992: a powerful mesh of interlocking pavilions whose plasticity evokes the best Le Corbusier, and whose organization around courtyards and subtle and temperate atmosphere take inspiration in the layout and air of traditional Indian cities and temples.

Doshi’s outstanding career as architect must be assessed along with his also outstanding work as professor and manager. He has founded and directed key institutions committed with modernity, such as the School of Architecture and Planning of Ahmedabad, the Indian Institute of Management, and the Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology, among others.

Arquitectura Viva reviewed in 1989 the fundamental monograph on his work, published by William Curtis in Ahmedabad in 1988, and took stock that same year of Doshi’s Gold Medal from the French Académie d’architecture, which coincided with that of urbanism awarded to Oriol Bohigas, also three decades ago.

It is the first time the Pritzker goes to an Indian architect. This choice seems to confirm the turn from local to social, and towards modern roots, that the Hyatt Foundation has recently given the award. The laureates of the four last editions were Shigeru Ban, Frei Otto, Alejandro Aravena, and RCR Arquitectes. The award ceremony will be celebrated at the Aga Khan Museum of Toronto in May. Doshi won the Aga Khan Award for Architecture (1993-1995) for his Aranya Community Housing development in Indore.
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