Pioneer Indian architect Balkrishna Doshi is the recipient of the Royal Gold Medal 2022, one of architecture's highest honours. The award that Her Majesty The Queen personally approves recognises Doshi’s six-decade long career and his contributions in propagating architecture in India, both through his practice and teachings.
At nighty-four, Doshi’s continues to inspire a generation of architects in India through his work which combines pioneering modernism with vernacular. Completing a wide range of projects ranging from visionary urban planning and low-cost social housing projects to housing development and residential building, institutional and cultural projects — Doshi’s quest for celebrating India’s climate and local craft and culture is evident through his architecture.
“I am pleasantly surprised and deeply humbled to receive the Royal Gold Medal from the Queen of England. What a great honour!” remarked Balkrishna Doshi on hearing the news that he will receive the Royal Gold Medal in 2022.
Doshi continues, “Today, six decades later I feel truly overwhelmed to be bestowed with the same award as my guru, Le Corbusier - honouring my six decades of practice. I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to my wife, my daughters and most importantly my team and collaborators at Sangath my studio.”
The award committee was chaired by RIBA President Simon Allford and comprised of 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.
RIBA President, Simon Allford had this to say about Balkrishna Doshi, “At ninety-four years, 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: its climate, technologies new and old and crafts.”
Balkrishna Doshi prompted dialogue and pro-active participation and transpiration in his practice, just like his architecture. Community participation and inclusivity is an essential part of his work which includes more than 100 built structures. His practice, Vastushilpa employs sixty people today and has continued to follow philosophies that Balkrishna Doshi pioneered, which includes having an open-door policy, inviting passers-by to drop in.
Balkrishan Doshi is only the second Indian architect to have won the prestigious Royal Gold Medal Award. Charles Correa was the first one to win the award in 1984.
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.