After graduating from J.J. School of Architecture, Balkrishna V Doshi worked for the famous French architect, Le Corbusier, in Paris from 1951 to 1954. Thereafter, he returned to India to supervise Le Corbusier’s projects in India.
In 1955, Doshi established Vastu Shilpa (environmental design). Alongside his architectural works, he advanced his studies. In 1958, he became a fellow at the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in Fine Arts.
One of Doshi’s foremost projects includes the Ahmedabad School of Architecture which he both founded and planned in 1962. The building followed Doshi’s idea of creating simple yet functional spaces. The campus of School of Architecture included simple brick and concrete building that was surrounded by shaded courtyards, staircases, and open layout. The structure displayed Le Corbusier and Louis Kahn’s influence over Doshi’s architectural designing and gave a glimpse of traditional Indian townscape. The school was completed in 1966
In 1962, Doshi started working on one of the most illustrious projects of his career, Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore. Built with natural stones, the building and the campus reflects Doshi’s idealistic approach through sustainability. The ethos behind the designing is his philosophy of making spaces that have low cost maintenance and instead have a self-generating energy about them.
In 1966, Doshi designed the Tagore Memorial Hall. Built to pay tribute to the legendary writer and poet Rabindranath Tagore, the 700-seat auditorium, located in Ahmedabad, features reinforced concrete walls, broken up into wings that create contrasting planes of light and shadow. The embellished artwork, sculptural columns that frame the tiered seating arrangement make it one of Doshi’s most notable works.
In 1972, Doshi’s School of Architecture underwent a revamp and became the Centre for Environment and Planning Technology (CEPT).
In 1980, Doshi’s Vastu-Shilpa built its own studio called ‘Sangath’. One of the iconic structures, the building showcased his experimental nature. It has a series of barrel-vaulted roofs that are covered in porcelain mosaic tiles. Described by his team as ‘sunken vaults’, the building is surrounded by a garden, and includes an outdoor amphitheatre that he often uses for lectures and other activities.
In 1980, he was commissioned to plan Vidyadhar Nagar in Jaipur. The vast new township, situated north-west of Jaipur, had been proposed to accommodate over a 100,000 people on a 400-hectare site. The architectural blueprints showcased Doshi’s plan of having wide central avenues and tight secondary streets with protective approach roads for the new housing township.
Towards the mid-1980s, Doshi started working on yet another important project, designing the campus for the National Institute of Fashion Technology, New Delhi. He kept the vision simple yet practical. If you walk in to the institute, you can find strategically clustered units that comprise of classrooms, laboratories, common lobby, and service spaces that provide students a homogenous and collaborative learning space.
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Amongst his distinguished works, Amnavad Ni Gufa, which was previously known as Husain-Doshi ni Gufa, is the most celebrated one. Truly reflecting Doshi’s experimental style, the cave-like structure is actually an underground art gallery that was essentially built to showcase the works of MF Hussain. The gallery is a juxtaposition of architecture and art, with tree-like columns that support the multiple interconnected domes, which are covered with a mosaic of tiles.
Premabhai Hall in Ahmedabad is another iconic building designed by Doshi. Though the hall had ceased operation due to fire concerns, in 2009 the space got a new lease of life as a City Centre. A revitalization process started which was a part of the development of the Pedestrian Pathway and Plaza between Bhadra Fort and Teen Darwaza.
Doshi’s contribution as one of India’s most influential architect continued all through his later life. Some of his best known works include the Aranya Low Cost Housing in Indore, IFFCO township in Kalol, Sawai Gandharva in Pune, ECIL Hyderabad, Jnanah-Pravah Centre for Cultural Studies in Varanasi, LIC Housing in Ahemdabad, Aitra Housing in Ahemdabad.
Apart from being a famous architect, Doshi has also been an educator and institution builder as well. He has been the the first founder Director of the School of Architecture (now CEPT), first founder Director of the School of Planning, first founder Dean of the Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology, founder member of the Visual Arts Centre, Ahmedabad and first founder Director of the Kanoria Centre for Arts, Ahmedabad.
Doshi is also instrumental in the establishment of the research institute Vastu-Shilpa Foundation for Studies and Research in Environmental Design. The institute, which is famed both nationally and internationally, has been instrumental in coming up with low cost housing and city planning works.
Awards & Achievements
In 1976, he was felicitated with Padma Shri for his pioneering work as an architect and educator.
Doshi’s Aranya Community Housing in Indore earned him the 6th Aga Khan Award for Architecture.
He was awarded Honorary Doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania and McGill University in Canada.
In 2011, he received France's highest honour for arts, ‘Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters’.
In 2018, Dr Doshi was honored with the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize, considered to be the equivalent of Nobel Prize, for his immense contribution.