Just three years ago, in 2018, Balkrishna Vithaldas or BV Doshi became the first Indian architect to receive the Pritzker Architecture Prize, which is considered one of the most prestigious prizes in architecture in the world — the Nobel equivalent for the field. And last week, he further amplified the plaudits he has received, when he was awarded the Royal Institute of British Architects’ (RIBA) Royal Gold Medal for 2022.
A pioneer of modernist and brutalist architecture in India, Doshi is the man who built the premises of IIM Bangalore and CEPT University of Ahmedabad as well. His other most notable projects include IIM Udaipur, NIFT Delhi, and the Aranya Low Cost Housing development in Indore which can house a whopping 80,000 people, and was awarded the Aga Khan Award for Architecture. Doshi is also responsible for Ahmedabad’s famous underground art gallery Amdavad Ni Gufa, a cave-like structure which has a roof made of interconnected domes, covered with a mosaic of tiles.
Now 94 years old, Doshi was born in Pune in 1927 and studied architecture at the JJ School of Architecture Bombay. He worked in Paris for four years before coming to India to work and supervise projects. He is considered to be an important figure of Indian architecture and noted for his contributions to the evolution of architectural discourse in India. Doshi has worked under Le Corbusier and Louis Kahn in his career spanning over seven decades, with over 100 built projects under his belt. Doshi has been instrumental in establishing the nationally and internationally known research institute Vastu-Shilpa Foundation for Studies and Research in Environmental Design.
The RIBA website notes that Doshi “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”.
Given in recognition of a lifetime’s work, the Royal Gold Medal is approved personally by Queen Elizabeth II and is given to a person or group of people who have had a significant influence on the advancement of architecture.
As the announcement made the rounds, internet users also poured in their congratulations to the eminent architect. Doshi shared his joy, too, and said the news came as a pleasant surprise and he was deeply humbled by the honour. The nonagenarian reminisced that his guru, celebrated Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier, won the award in 1953, when a young Doshi was working with him.
RIBA president Allford said that Doshi was “a most deserving recipient of this award” because he had “influenced generations of architects through his delightfully purposeful architecture”.
The RIBA Royal Gold Medal will be presented to him at a ceremony in 2022.