Indian architect, urban planner and educator Balkrishna Vithaldas (BV) Doshi has become the 173rd person to be awarded the RIBA Gold Medal – the UK’s highest honour for architecture. Given in recognition of a lifetime’s work, the Royal Gold Medal is approved personally by The Queen and is given to a person or group of people who have had a significant influence on the advancement of architecture.
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With a 70 year career and over 100 built projects, Mr Doshi has influenced the direction of architecture in India and its adjacent regions through both his practice and his teaching. His buildings combine pioneering modernism with vernacular, informed by a deep appreciation of the traditions of India’s architecture, climate, local culture and craft. His projects include administrative and cultural facilities, housing developments and residential buildings. He has become internationally known for his visionary urban planning and social housing projects, as well as his work in education, both in India and as a visiting professor at universities around the world.
Doshi’s key projects include: Shreyas Comprehensive School Campus (1958-63), Ahmedabad, India; Atira Guest House (1958), Ahmedabad, India, low cost housing; The Institute of Indology (1962), Ahmedabad, India, a building to house rare documents; Ahmedabad School of Architecture (1966, with additions until 2012) – renamed CEPT University in 2002 – which focused on creating spaces that promoted collaborative learning; Tagore Hall & Memorial Theatre (1967), a 700 seat Brutalist auditorium in Ahmedabad, India; Premabhai Hall (1976), Ahmedabad, India, former theatre and auditorium; Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore (1977 – 1992), a business school; Sangath (1981), the studio for his architecture practice, Vastu Shilpa; Kanoria Centre for Arts (1984), an arts and creative hub; Aranya Low Cost Housing (1989), Indore, India, which won the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 1995 and Amdavad ni Gufa (1994), a cave-like art gallery that exhibits the work of artist Maqbool Fida Husain.
RIBA President Simon Allford said: “It was an honour and a pleasure to chair the committee in selecting Balkrishna Doshi as the 2022 Royal Gold Medallist. At 94 years old he has influenced generations of architects through his delightfully purposeful architecture. Influenced by his time spent in the office of Le Corbusier, his work nevertheless is that of an original and independent thinker – able to undo, redo and evolve. In the twentieth century, when technology facilitated many architects to build independently of local climate and tradition, Balkrishna remained closely connected with his hinterland: it’s climate, technologies new and old and crafts.
Balkrishna Doshi’s outstanding contribution to the art of architecture, the craft of construction and the practice of urban design establish him as a most deserving recipient of this award and I greatly look forward to him being presented with the medal next year.”
Born in 1927 in Pune, India, to an extended family of furniture makers, Mr Doshi studied at the J J School of Architecture, Bombay, before working for four years with Le Corbusier as senior designer (1951 to 54) in Paris and four more years in India to supervise projects in Ahmedabad. He worked with Louis Kahn as an associate to build the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, and they continued to collaborate for over a decade. He founded his own practice, Vastushilpa in 1956 with two architects. Today Vastushilpa is a multi-disciplinary practice with ﬁve partners spanning three generations and has 60 employees. The practice invites dialogue and its philosophy of pro-active participation even applies to their office space – which has an open door, inviting passers-by to drop in.
The 2022 Honours Committee, who selected the Royal Gold Medallist was chaired by Mr Allford and comprised architects Alison Brooks and last year’s Royal Gold Medal recipient Sir David Adjaye OBE, architect and academic Kate Cheyne and cultural historian and museum director Dr Gus Casely-Hayford OBE.