Considered the Nobel Prize of architecture, the Pritzker prize is one of the most recognized and respected awards an architect can receive in their lifetime. Started in 1979 by the Pritzker family of Chicago, the prize has been bestowed on great names like Jean Nouvel, Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas and Fumihiko Maki. Jay and Cindy Pritzker, the creators of the prize believed that this kind of award would encourage awareness and inspire creativity about buildings, designs and architecture. The winner of the award receives a bronze medallion and a grant of USD 100,000. On March 7, at the age of 90, BalKrishna Doshi became the first Indian and the latest laureate to be awarded the Pritzker Prize. He has been an important contributor to the evolution of South Asian architecture.
Corbusier and Doshi
Born in Pune, Doshi’s father and grandfather were in the furniture industry and early on, he showed an interest and aptitude for design and architecture. After attending Sir. J.J. School of Architecture Bombay, he worked with Le Corbusier in Paris for four years before returning to India. He established his own studio called Vastu-Shilpa in 1955 and later set up the School of Architecture in Ahmedabad. Doshi is a pioneer in the space of low-income housing and urban planning and has promised to use this award to focus on housing for the poor. "If I, as an architect am not able to do something for my people and provide them with what they need, then I should say my job is incomplete," said Doshi.
With a career spanning seven decades, Doshi shows no sign of slowing down. He was awarded the Aga Khan Award for designing the Aranya Low-Cost Housing project in Indore where over 80,000 people live. He believes in creating holistic habitats which put people before profit which is exactly what Aranya did, but with an innovative and high-quality design. He believes that design should be democratic and participatory and that without affordability and sustainability, the design would not make sense. His projects go beyond the functional and actually connect with the people they are designed for, offering them respite from the drudgery of their daily lives.
When speaking about another one of the huge complexes he built, Sangath, his architecture studio, Doshi said, “Sangath fuses images and associations of Indian lifestyles. The campus integrates, and memories of places visited collide, evoking and connecting forgotten episodes. Sangath is an ongoing school where one learns, unlearns and relearns. It has become a sanctuary of culture, art, and sustainability where research, institutional facilities, and maximum sustainability are emphasized.”
Doshi is not the kind of man to follow trends, he designs intelligently from his heart. He combines his sense of responsibility to his country with authentic, world-class architecture and we congratulate him on this incredible achievement!