Last month, Balkrishna Vithaldas Doshi received the Pritzker Prize for architecture, making him the first Indian recipient of the prestigious award
WORDS: REVATI RAJWADE
BALKRISHNA Vithaldas Doshi, 90, is a name that will go down in history as the first Indian to receive the Pritzker Prize – a pinnacle in architecture. Much has been written about his life, career and works since this announcement and it is undoubtedly a fascinating story of humility and sheer expertise in the field.
His accomplishments have raised him to a towering pedestal in the eyes of the general public. It is not improbable to imagine an architect at the core of ‘building’ India. Looking at the larger picture, the country has a lot to gain and learn from this momentous event of March 07, 2018.
Doshi’s work speaks volumes about the type of principled and design oriented architecture that India needs and its importance in nation building.
A design philosophy which nurtures nature, respects indigenous styles, promotes experimentation and evolution of design has received the highest architecture accolade.
A man behind the conception of India’s leading design institutes has joined the ranks of the greatest recognised architects of the world. It is about time that India shuns the frenzy of ‘globalisation’ of architecture, which is hardly endemic and which promotes glass façades and then uses water saving sanitary fixtures for sustainability.
B.V Doshi’s work depicts the need to respect and follow the ideals of the architectural ideology that we already possess. We as a country need to start respecting professionals who voice opinions that are politically incorrect and against the current tide of the real estate boom which is, ironically, in no way aligned to the National Mission of Housing for All -2022.
Barrier-free public spaces and amenities need to be given priority above infrastructure whose birth lies in symbolism and appeasing masses for political gain. Doshi’s work spectrum can be a model scheme for tangible and intangible aspects of our country’s built environment and the areas encompassing it.
His designs show borrowed concepts from our architectural heritage and its seamless adaption to the present. They lack extravagant elevational features such as RCC cantilevered pergolas, which crown a building to ensure that it screams for an obnoxious identity amidst the other non-contextual built forms surrounding it.
To further illustrate the relevance of Doshi’s work in today’s times, let us enumerate some of his design features from key projects. The spirit of experimentation is rife in the ‘Amdavadni Gufa,’ which surely must not have had a reference image during concept finalisation.
In contrast, even the largest of our uber luxurious townships are based on the streetscapes of Paris and New York and lack originality in every sense of the term.
In his Sangath project, indirect and diffused light has been drawn into even the innermost spaces of the office areas, making it a forerunner in climatology. The usage of a curtain wall using the rat trap bond provides success in keeping the interiors of his house cooler in the formidable summers and warmer in winters.
This is well in advance, prior to the advent of ‘green architecture’. These minute design details and thought processes form the premise of the macro level planning required for formulating schemes and building infrastructure for a modern India in these difficult times.
To sum it all up in a few words is his own quote: “I think architecture is a matter of transformation. Transformation of all adverse situations into favourable ones.”