BV Doshi wins prestigious Pritzker prize

In a resounding slap in the face of religious bigots across India, this year’s Pritzker prize has gone to Balkrishna Vithaldas Doshi, one of India’s best known and most celebrated architects, who was previously targeted by right wing goons for his friendship with artist Maqbool Fida Husain. In 1996 Bajrang Dal members had broken into the Husain-Doshi Gufa, a gallery of experimental art designed as a collaboration between the artist and the architect, in Ahmedabad, and destroyed 27 of Husain’s paintings and many tapestries.

BV Doshi
The goons claimed the attack was their retaliation against Husain’s painting of a Hindu goddess. Not one member of the BJP had then raised their voice against this wanton destruction of art. But now that Doshi has been conferred what is often regarded as the highest honour in the world of architecture, Prime Minister Modi himself tweeted a congratulatory message saying:

The Politics of Architecture in India
Interestingly, the BJP has never shown any interest in encouraging artists, designers and architects. It was in fact, India’s first Prime Minister Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, the man the BJP loves to blame for all Indian failures, who encouraged international maestros like Le CorbusierLouis KahnAnant Raje, Charles and Ray Eames etc. to come to India and enrich India with the Bauhaus and industrial design achievements of Europe. It was because of this that Ahmedabad had become the hub of modern architecture, art, design and science during the lifetime of Nehru and his friends like Vikram Sarabhai and Homi Bhabha. It was Indira Gandhi who took interest in the construction of the eponymous Nehru Pavilion and Hall of Nations at Pragati Maidan.
The BJP however was in power when the iconic Hall of Nations was demolished by the Indian Trade Promotion Organization (ITPO) in a clandestine overnight operation in April 2017, even as a case against its demolition was still pending before the Delhi High Court. The Hall of Nations was the world’s first and largest-span space-frame structure built in reinforced concrete. It was inaugurated in 1972 to commemorate twenty-five years of Indian independence. It stood alongside four other Halls of Industries, all of which were demolished in the demolition drive. The iconic buildings were designed by another highly respected architect, Raj Rewal who called the demolition ‘an act of outrage’ given how the next hearing in the case was just three days away. The ITPO is the Ministry of Commerce’s trade promotion body. In fact, it was the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by PM Modi that approved the redevelopment plan for Pragati Maidan in January 2017.
Doshi’s Architecture and Signature Style
Doshi’s approach to architecture involved ways to merge rustic Indian life with modern infrastructure keeping in mind local climate and culture. He believed in designing spaces based on human interaction. This is best reflected in his design for Aranya Nagar, a low income neighbourhood near Indore, where it is evident that a lot of thought has gone into creating a home that has at its heart the people who live in it. His architecture shows respect for its inhabitants and their traditional way of life. Infact, Aranya Nagar’s architectural planning and design won Doshi the Aga Khan award. Doshi’s work also involves heritage conservation and an emphasis on eco-friendly techniques. He is an urbanist and focuses on created structures best suited to the needs of the people who use them, all the while ensuring innovation and maintaining aesthetics sense.

Early life and career
Doshi was born in Pune in 1927. He dropped out of Mumbai’s JJ School of Art and headed to London where he worked as a draftsman while completing his Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) exams. After meeting Le Corbusier Doshi moved to his Paris atelier where he worked for many years before moving back to India to work on Le Corbusier’s projects in Chandigarh and Ahmedabad.
During his long career Doshi has designed over 100 buildings but he is best known for some of India’s most iconic ones like the Husain-Doshi Gufa Art Gallery in Ahmedabad, the Center for Planning and Technology (CEPT) University building in Ahmedabad, IIM Bangalore, National Institute of Fashion Technology, Aranya Nagar Low Income Housing area in Indore, Diamond Bourse, Tagore Memorial Hall in Ahmedabad and the eco-friendly IFFCO Township in Kalol. In fact, the design for Aranya Nagar won him the prestigious Aga Khan award.

Awards and recognition
The French Gold Medal, Padma Shree, Chicago Architecture Award, G. B. Mhatre Award and the Madhav Achwal Award bestowed by the Indian Institute of Architects, Great Master’s Award, Golden Architect Award, and awards from various countries including South Africa, Mexico, Bulgaria, and early in his career a Graham Foundation Fellowship. The 90 year old is the oldest winner of the USD 1,00,000 Pritzker prize.



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