The veteran Architect, Balkrishna Doshi has added another feather in his cap at the age of above 90, having been awarded the Padma Bhushan as announced on 25th January 2020 from his home ground, Gujarat. The Padma Bhushan is considered as one of the highest civilian awards of the country that is dedicated to the excellence of different varied fields of work, conferred in three categories—Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri. Architect B.V Doshi has received the ‘Padma Bhushan’ award for his distinguished service in architecture.
The 1927 born architect started his journey of architecture in the mere age of 20. Starting the career as an apprentice of Le Corbusier, Ar B.V Doshi is one of the most celebrated modern architects of the century. He was the first Indian architect to receive the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2018.
After his days in Paris with Corbusier, Ar Doshi returned back to India in 1955 and soon after established his own office, Vastu Shilpa in Sangath. The office features spaces that have become some ‘must-see’ architecture sites in Ahmedabad including the iconic roof space that can easily be recognised with a series of sunken vaults sheathed in China mosaic and a small terraced amphitheater with intricate water details etc. The architectural identity of Balkrishna Doshi can be traced to his exposure to the late Le Corbusier. However, his works also reflect regional influence combined with modern forms and materials making an independent signature style.
Ar Doshi was significantly involved in the design of Chandigarh. He designed the living spaces for the thousands of humble government servants. This gave way to his continued interest in producing the best, basic and low-cost communal spaces. Ar Doshi designed another such space—the Aranya Township, consisting of 6500 planned low-cost residential units in Indore, east of Ahmadabad. Designed to foster a sense of community and facilitate harmony between the built environment and its inhabitants, the township received the prestigious Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 1996.
Another renowned project of the architect is the Atira Housing, Ahmedabad, which is also among Doshi’s earlier projects. Constructed in the tenure of 1956 to 1960, The Atira factory and its homes are located in a green front area at the Indian Institute of Management. It is a small complex that reveals many similarities to Le Corbusier’s projects.
Ar Balkrishna Doshi also designed the ECIL Township, Hyderabad, IFFCO Township, Kalol and the LIC Housing etc. His masterpieces include the Tagore Hall, Ahmedabad, featuring a series of rigid concrete folded plates framing the outer shell of the hall and the Sawai Gandharva, Pune. He also designed the Jana-Pravah centre for cultural Studies, Varanasi.
Apart from his famed architectural projects, the Padma Bhushan honoured architect opened the School of Architecture and introduced an alternative curriculum known as the Centre of Environmental Planning and Technology (CEPT). The advocate of contextual and environment-friendly architecture, Ar Doshi has a practical approach towards architecture. Looking at some of his renowned works, widespread use of bearing walls can be noted serving as efficient thermal masses in India’s hot climate. Prof. Doshi’s body of work reflects his lifelong quest for modern architecture rooted in the Indian context.