Balkrishna Doshi is the new lucky winner of the Royal Gold Medal 2022, awarded by the RIBA with the approval of the Queen of England. Here are five things you should know to better approach his work.
Collaborator of Le Corbusier and Louis Kahn in his early years
Balkrishna Doshi was born in 1927 in Pune, India, into a family of furniture makers. After studying architecture in Bombay, he joined the team of Le Corbusier, with whom he worked for three years in Paris and for nearly four years in India to supervise the work in Ahmedabad. Doshi also worked alongside the American architect Louis Kahn, notably on the Ahmedabad Institute of Management, and then collaborated with him for ten years.
In 1956, he founded his own firm, Vastushilpa, with two architects. Multidisciplinary, it currently has about sixty employees. With a career spanning 70 years and more than 100 built projects, Balkrishna Doshi has influenced the direction of architecture in India and its adjacent regions through both his practice and his teaching.
After the Spaniards of Studio RCR Arquitectes, it is Balkrishna Doshi who won this equivalent of the Nobel Prize in the discipline of architecture. The first Indian to win the precious prize, he is also the oldest winner. On this occasion, he declared: “I owe this prize to my guru, Le Corbusier.” He thanked his guru once again when he learned that he was the lucky RIBA winner for 2022.
In favor of a union of crafts and new technologies
RIBA President Simon Allford praised the work of this year’s recipient: “In the twentieth century, when technology allowed many architects to build independently of local climate and tradition, Balkrishna remained closely tied to his hinterland: its climate, its new and old technologies, and its craft. Indeed, the man owes his fame to his commitment to sustainable yet inexpensive architecture.
A humanist work
One of his most emblematic creations is undoubtedly the “Aranya Low Cost Housing.” Located in Indore, in the state of Madhya Pradesh, this large complex was built in 1989 in response to a housing crisis in the region and was honored by the Aga Khan Award in 1995. A project of 6,500 dwellings which has been able to reproduce the spirit of Indian villages, inhabiting nearly 80,000 people.