Regarded as the Nobel Prize for architecture, the Pritzker Prize has honored the work of living architects from all over the world since its inception in 1979. This year sees it make its way to India for the first time, going to Balkrishna Doshi who has spent much of his 70-year career dedicated to improving the quality of life in his homeland with a particular focus on lower socio-economic classes. The Pritzker Jury deemed there was no candidate for 2018 that better fit its criteria of having "produced consistent and significant contributions to humanity and the built environment through the art of architecture."
Born in Pune, India in 1927, Doshi studied at the JJ School of Architecture in Mumbai before traveling to Paris to work under France's best-known 20th century architect, Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris. Known as Le Corbusier, the iconic figure was a designer, painter and one of the foremost pioneers of modern architecture, and it is he who Doshi credits with a great deal of his success.
"My works are an extension of my life, philosophy and dreams trying to create treasury of the architectural spirit," he says. "I owe this prestigious prize to my guru, Le Corbusier. His teachings led me to question identity and compelled me to discover new regionally adopted contemporary expression for a sustainable holistic habitat. With all my humility and gratefulness I want to thank the Pritzker Jury for this deeply touching and rewarding recognition of my work. This reaffirms my belief that, 'life celebrates when lifestyle and architecture fuse.'"
Doshi's approach is perhaps best illustrated through the Aranya Low Cost Housing project, completed in 1989. The cluster of 6,500 houses linked by labyrinthine pathways and communal courtyards range from single-room units to larger homes, and accommodate more than 80,000 low- and middle-income residents.
Another noteworthy creation is the Indian Institute of Management, which is inspired by the traditional maze-like cities and temples found across India. It comprises a collection of interlocking buildings, courts and galleries, and uses grand masonry, giant corridors and greenery to blur the lines between indoors and outdoors.
"Professor Doshi has said that "design converts shelters into homes, housing into communities, and cities into magnets of opportunities," says Tom Pritzker, Chairman of Hyatt Foundation, which sponsors the award. "The life's work of Balkrishna Doshi truly underscores the mission of the Prize – demonstrating the art of architecture and an invaluable service to humanity. I am honored to present the 40th anniversary of this award to an architect who has contributed more than 60 years of service to us all."
Jump on into the gallery to see more of Doshi's acclaimed body of work. He will present a lecture and be officially awarded the Pritzker Prize at the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, Canada, in May 2018.
Source: Pritzker Prize
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