Balkrishna Doshi (1927-2023) was born in Pune, India into an extended Hindu family that had been involved in the furniture industry for two generations. Displaying an aptitude for art and an understanding of proportion at a young age, he was exposed to architecture by a school teacher. He began his architecture studies in 1947, the year India gained independence, at the Sir J.J. School of Architecture Bombay (Mumbai), the oldest and one of the foremost institutions for architecture in India.

Doshi’s ambition and initiative guided many pivotal moments in his life—from boarding a ship from India to London, where he dreamed of joining the Royal Institute of British Architects; and moving to Paris—despite his inability to speak French—to work under Le Corbusier; to responding to the responsibility and opportunity of rebuilding his native country.

Balkrishna Doshi with Le Corbusier
Balkrishna Doshi with Le Corbusier (Photo courtesy of VSF)

He returned to India in 1954 to oversee Le Corbusier’s projects in Chandigarh and Ahmedabad, which include the Mill Owner’s Association Building (Ahmedabad, 1954) and Shodhan House (Ahmedabad, 1956), among others. Beginning in 1962, Doshi also worked with Louis Kahn as an associate to build the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, and they continued to collaborate for over a decade.

Balkrishna Doshi with Louis Kahn
Balkrishna Doshi with Louis Kahn (Photo courtesy of VSF)

In 1956, Doshi hired two architects and founded his own practice, Vastushilpa, which has since been renamed Vastushilpa Consultants and grown to employ five partners and sixty employees and has completed more than 100 projects since its inception. Infused with lessons from Western architects before him, he forged his artistic vision with a deep reverence for life, Eastern culture, and forces of nature to create an architecture that was personal, laced with sights, sounds, and memories from his past. Alongside a deep respect for Indian history and culture, elements of his youth—memories of shrines, temples and bustling streets; scents of lacquer and wood from his grandfather’s furniture workshop—all find a way into his architecture.

Of the tremendous range of completed buildings, which include institutions, mixed-use complexes, housing projects, public spaces, galleries, and private residences, Doshi recalls one of his most personal endeavors, Sangath (Ahmedabad, 1980), his architecture studio. “Sangath fuses images and associations of Indian lifestyles. The campus integrates, and memories of places visited collide, evoking and connecting forgotten episodes. Sangath is an ongoing school where one learns, unlearns and relearns. It has become a sanctuary of culture, art and sustainability where research, institutional facilities and maximum sustainability are emphasized.”

Doshi in his studio, Sangath
Doshi in his studio, Sangath (Photo courtesy of VSF)


Centre for Environmental Planning & Technology (Photo courtesy of VSF)

He established Vastushilpa Foundation for Studies and Research in Environmental Design in 1978 to evolve indigenous design and planning standards for built environments appropriate to the socio-cultural and environmental milieu of India. Today, it serves as an effective link between academics and professional consultants. Doshi was Founder, former Director and former Chairman of the School of Architecture and Planning (Ahmedabad, 1966–2012), which was renamed CEPT University in 2002. Later, he continued to reside in Ahmedabad, as Dean Emeritus.

Having been recognized both nationally and internationally, Doshi is the recipient of the Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters of France (2011); Global Award for Lifetime Achievement for Sustainable Architecture, Institut Francais d’Architecture, Paris (2007); Prime Minister’s National Award for Excellence in Urban Planning and Design, India (2000); Aga Khan Award for Architecture (1993-1995) for Aranya Community Housing; Gold Medal, Academy of Architecture of France (1988); Gold Medal, Indian Institute of Architects (1988); and Padma Shree National Award, Government of India (1976). Doshi is a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects and the Indian Institute of Architects, and an Honorary Fellow of the American Institute of Architects. He served on the Pritzker Prize Jury from 2005–2007, and on selection committees for the Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts and the Aga Khan Award for Architecture. 

Doshi and Kamala in Fatehpur Siki
Doshi with his wife, Kamala, at Fatehpur Sikri (Photo courtesy of VSF)

A retrospective of his works, “Celebrating Habitat: The Real, the Virtual and the Imaginary,” opened at the National Gallery of Modern Arts, Delhi, India (2014), before traveling to the Power Station of Art Shanghai, China, (2017). He recently delivered the 27th Annual Architecture lecture at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, U.K. (2017).

Published texts include Paths Uncharted (Vastushilpa Foundation, 2011); “Community Building in Indore, India” in Where are the Utopian Visionaries?: Architecture of Social Exchange by Hansy Better Barraza (Periscope Publishing, 2012); and numerous works in relevant international journals such as A+U (Japan), Architectural Review (United Kingdom), and Abitare (Italy), among many others.

Doshi was a member of the International Committee for preparing the International Charter on the Education of Architects, sponsored by International Union of Architects in association with UNESCO (1995), and holds honorary doctorates from the University of Pennsylvania, United States (1990) and McGill University, Canada (2005). He has been a visiting professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology; University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign; Rice University, Houston; Washington University in St. Louis; and University of Hong Kong, among others, and has lectured at prestigious schools and institutions throughout the world.

Balkrishna Doshi Receives the 2018 Pritzker Architecture Prize

His work in architecture to affect humanity is deeply personal, responsive, and meaningful.

Chicago, IL (March 7, 2018)—Professor Balkrishna Doshi, of India, has been selected as the 2018 Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate, announced Tom Pritzker, Chairman of Hyatt Foundation, which sponsors the award that is known internationally as architecture’s highest honor.

Doshi at the Insitute of Indology
Doshi outside of the Institute of Indology

Architect, urban planner, and educator for the past 70 years, Doshi has been instrumental in shaping the discourse of architecture throughout India and internationally. Influenced by masters of 20th-century architecture, Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, known as Le Corbusier, and Louis Kahn, Doshi has been able to interpret architecture and transform it into built works that respect eastern culture while enhancing the quality of living in India. His ethical and personal approach to architecture has touched lives of every socio-economic class across a broad spectrum of genres since the 1950s. 

“My works are an extension of my life, philosophy and dreams trying to create treasury of the architectural spirit. 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,” comments Doshi. He continues, “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 architecture explores the relationships between fundamental needs of human life, connectivity to self and culture, and understanding of social traditions, within the context of a place and its environment, and through a response to Modernism. Childhood recollections, from the rhythms of the weather to the ringing of temple bells, inform his designs. He describes architecture as an extension of the body, and his ability to attentively address function while regarding climate, landscape, and urbanization is demonstrated through his choice of materials, overlapping spaces, and utilization of natural and harmonizing elements.

“Professor Doshi has said that ‘Design converts shelters into homes, housing into communities, and cities into magnets of opportunities,” comments Mr. Pritzker. “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.”

The architect designed Aranya Low Cost Housing (Indore, 1989), which presently accommodates over 80,000 individuals through a system of houses, courtyards and a labyrinth of internal pathways. Over 6,500 residences range from modest one-room units to spacious homes, accommodating low and middle-income residents. Overlapping layers and transitional areas encourage fluid and adaptable living conditions, customary in Indian society.

Doshi´s architecture is both poetic and functional. The Indian Institute of Management (Bangalore, 1977-1992), inspired by traditional maze-like Indian cities and temples, is organized as interlocking buildings, courts and galleries. It also provides a variety of spaces protected from the hot climate. The scale of masonry and vast corridors infused with a campus of greenery allow visitors to be simultaneously indoors and outdoors. As people pass through the buildings and spaces, Doshi invites them to experience their surroundings and also suggests the possibility of transformation.

Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology

The 2018 Jury Citation states, in part: “Over the years, Balkrishna Doshi has always created an architecture that is serious, never flashy or a follower of trends. With a deep sense of responsibility and a desire to contribute to his country and its people through high quality, authentic architecture, he has created projects for public administrations and utilities, educational and cultural institutions, and residences for private clients, among others.” The Jury continues, “Doshi is acutely aware of the context in which his buildings are located. His solutions take into account the social, environmental and economic dimensions, and therefore his architecture is totally engaged with sustainability.”

His studio, Sangath (Ahmedabad, 1980), translates to “moving together.” The placement of communal spaces, including a garden and outdoor amphitheater, highlights Doshi’s regard for collaboration and social responsibility. Vaulted roofs, porcelain mosaic tile coverings, grassy areas, and sunken spaces mitigate extreme heat. The mosaic tile detail is echoed in the tortoise-shell inspired roof of Amdavad Ni Gufa (Ahmedabad, 1994), an undulating, cave-like, ferro-cement art gallery, positioned underground, featuring works of Maqbool Fida Husain.

Other notable works include academic institution Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology (CEPT University) (Ahmedabad, 1966-2012); cultural spaces such as Tagore Memorial Hall (Ahmedabad, 1967), the Institute of Indology (Ahmedabad, 1962), and Premabhai Hall (Ahmedabad, 1976); housing complexes Vidhyadhar Nagar Masterplan and Urban Design (Jaipur, 1984) and Life Insurance Corporation Housing or “Bima Nagar” (Ahmedabad, 1973); and private residence Kamala House (Ahmedabad, 1963), among many others.

“Every object around us, and nature itself—lights, sky, water and storm—everything is in a symphony,” explains Doshi. “And this symphony is what architecture is all about. My work is the story of my life, continuously evolving, changing and searching…searching to take away the role of architecture, and look only at life.”

Doshi is the 45th Pritzker Prize Laureate, and the first to hail from India. The 2018 Pritzker Architecture Prize ceremony commemorates the 40th anniversary of the accolade, and will take place at the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, Canada, this May. The Laureate will present a public lecture, in partnership with the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design at the University of Toronto on May 16, 2018.

Indian architect Balkrishna Doshi has continually exhibited the objectives of the Pritzker Architecture Prize to the highest degree.  He has been practicing the art of architecture, demonstrating substantial contributions to humanity, for over 60 years. By granting him the award this year, the Pritzker Prize jury recognizes his exceptional architecture as reflected in over a hundred buildings he has realized, his commitment and his dedication to his country and the communities he has served, his influence as a teacher, and the outstanding example he has set for professionals and students around the world throughout his long career.

Doshi, as he is fondly called by all who know him, worked with two masters of the 20th century—Le Corbusier and Louis Kahn. Without a doubt, Doshi’s early works were influenced by these architects as can be seen in the robust forms of concrete which he employed. However, Doshi took the language of his buildings beyond these early models. With an understanding and appreciation of the deep traditions of India’s architecture, he united prefabrication and local craft and developed a vocabulary in harmony with the history, culture, local traditions and the changing times of his home country India.

Over the years, Balkrishna Doshi has always created an architecture that is serious, never flashy or a follower of trends. With a deep sense of responsibility and a desire to contribute to his country and its people through high quality, authentic architecture, he has created projects for public administrations and utilities, educational and cultural institutions, and residences for private clients, among others.

He undertook his first project for low-income housing in the 1950s. Doshi stated in 1954, “It seems I should take an oath and remember it for my lifetime: to provide the lowest class with the proper dwelling.” He fulfilled this personal oath in projects such as Aranya Low-cost Housing at Indore, 1989, in central-west India and the Co-Operative Middle Income Housing, Ahmedabad, India of 1982, and many others. Housing as shelter is but one aspect of these projects. The entire planning of the community, the scale, the creation of public, semi-public and private spaces are a testament to his understanding of how cities work and the importance of the urban design.

Aranya Low Income Housing

Doshi is acutely aware of the context in which his buildings are located. His solutions take into account the social, environmental and economic dimensions, and therefore his architecture is totally engaged with sustainability. Using patios, courtyards, and covered walkways, as in the case of the School of Architecture (1966, now part of CEPT) or the Madhya Pradesh Electricity Board in Jabalpur (1979) or the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore (1992), Doshi has created spaces to protect from the sun, catch the breezes and provide comfort and enjoyment in and around the buildings.

Model of Sangath
Sangath Model

In the architect’s own studio, called Sangath (Ahmedabad, India, 1980), we can see the outstanding qualities of Balkrishna Doshi’s approach and understanding of architecture. The Sanskrit word Sangath means to accompany or to move together.  As an adjective, it embodies that which is appropriate or relevant.  The structures are semi-underground and totally integrated with the natural characteristics of the site.  There is an easy flow of terraces, reflecting ponds, mounds, and the curved vaults which are distinguishing formal elements.  There is variety and richness in the interior spaces that have different qualities of light, different shapes as well as different uses, while unified through the use of concrete. Doshi has created an equilibrium and peace among all the components—material and immaterial—which result in a whole that is much more than the sum of the parts. 

Balkrishna Doshi constantly demonstrates that all good architecture and urban planning must not only unite purpose and structure but must take into account climate, site, technique, and craft, along with a deep understanding and appreciation of the context in the broadest sense. Projects must go beyond the functional to connect with the human spirit through poetic and philosophical underpinnings. For his numerous contributions as an architect, urban planner, teacher, for his steadfast example of integrity and his tireless contributions to India and beyond, the Pritzker Architecture Prize Jury selects Balkrishna Doshi as the 2018 Pritzker Laureate.


Jury Members

Glenn Murcutt, Chair

Stephen Breyer

André Aranha Corrêa do Lago

The Lord Palumbo

Richard Rogers

Kazuyo Sejima

Benedetta Tagliabue

Ratan N. Tata

Wang Shu

Martha Thorne, Executive Director

Aga Khan Museum, Toronto, Canada

The Aga Khan Museum offers visitors a window into the artistic, intellectual, and scientific contributions of Muslim civilizations to world heritage. It contains artwork and artifacts from the private collection of His Highness the Aga Khan.

Designed by Pritzker Prize winner Fumihiko Maki, the Museum, clad in white granite, opened in 2014. Maki imagined the building as a composition of a series of folded white surfaces that are in dialogue with the nearby Ismaili Centre, Toronto, designed by the late Indian architect Charles Correa who was a member of the Pritzker Prize Jury from 1993 to1998. The two buildings are united by the Aga Khan Park, designed by landscape architect Vladimir Djurovic and includes a series of reflecting pools as well as landscaped gardens.

Past Pritzker Architecture Prize ceremonies have been held at France’s Palace of Versailles and Grand Trianon; Tōdai-ji Buddist Temple in Nara, Japan; Prague Castle in the Czech Republic; Akasaka Palace in Tokyo, Japan; the White House in Washington, D.C.; Beijing’s Great Hall of the People; as well as at distinguished art institutions including The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam; The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City; The State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia; the Altes Museum in Berlin, Germany; and the Art Institute of Chicago.


Read Balkrishna Doshi's Acceptance Speech

Read Tom Pritzker's Ceremony Speech

Aga Khan Museum
Photo by Janet Kimber


Ceremony Highlights

© The Hyatt Foundation / The Pritzker Architecture Prize

Full Ceremony