Balakrishna Doshi, one of the most famous architects of the Indian subcontinent, has passed away at the age of 95.
Doshi died on Tuesday, according to a Pritzker Prize spokesperson. He was India’s first—and to date, only—winner of the award, the profession’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize.
“Doshi was instrumental in shaping the discourse of architecture across India and internationally since the 1950s,” the Pritzker Prize said in an emailed statement. “Influenced by the 20th-century masters, Le Corbusier and Louis Kahn, he explored the basic needs of human life, the connection to self and culture, and the relationship between social traditions. Each socioeconomic class of his native country “
Amdavad ni Gofa, an underground museum with dome-shaped ceilings that extend above the open ground. Credit: Vastu Shilpa Consultants
His practice, Studio Sangat, also shared the news of his passing on Instagram with a message signed by his family and business partners.
“(In India) we talk about housing, we talk about settlements, we talk about villages, we talk about towns – everyone talks, but who is actually going to do anything about it? ?I took a personal decision that I would work for him. The ‘other half’ – I would work for them and try to empower them.
Born in Pune in 1927, Doshi worked under Le Corbusier in Paris in the early 1950s before returning to India to oversee the modernist master’s projects in Chandigarh and Ahmedabad. He later settled, where he set up his practice, Vastu Shilpa Consultants, and would later complete some of his most famous projects, including the Tagore Memorial Hall and Amdavad Ni Gofa, an underground museum shaped like a dome. topped with a series of terraces.
Typical of Doshi’s flagship housing complex, the Arnia low-cost housing project comprises an intricate network of interconnected pathways, courtyards and public spaces. Credit: Vastu Shilpa Consultants
But Doshi was successful elsewhere, completing more than 100 projects in cities including Bangalore, Hyderabad and Jaipur. Despite his international reputation, his work focused almost exclusively on his native country. His other signature projects include the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore and the Madhya Pradesh Electricity Board building in Jabalpur.
The Aranya low-cost housing development in Indore city perhaps best describes his vision. Featuring an intricate network of passageways, courtyards and public spaces, it offered 6,500 affordable housing units to more than 80,000 people.
“(In India) we talk about houses, we talk about settlements, we talk about villages, we talk about cities – everybody talks, but who is going to do anything about it?” he asked. “I took a personal decision that I would work for the ‘other half’ – I would work for them and try to empower them.”
Prema Bhai Hall, an auditorium built in Doshi’s hometown Ahmedabad. Credit: Vastu Shilpa Consultants
Recounting his encounters with “extreme poverty” as a child, Doshi reiterated his commitment to social housing in India.
“These people have nothing — no land, no place, no employment,” he said. “But if the government gives them a little piece of land, they can feel, ‘I’ll work hard, and find a way to build my own house.’ If you bring them together as a community, there is cooperation, sharing, understanding and all this spread of religion, caste, customs and profession.
“When I visit these places after almost 30 years, (I find people) who we gave a one-foot-high platform with water taps and toilets. Today they have two-story or three-story buildings. are, that they have created. Themselves… (they are) multi-cultural, multi-religious people — including different income groups — and they all live together. They talk and communicate. “