The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) is delighted to announce that Balkrishna Doshi has been formally presented with the 2022 Royal Gold Medal for Architecture by RIBA President, Simon Allford on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen.
This was followed by a virtual celebration broadcast live from Balkrishna Doshi’s studio in Ahmedabad, India and RIBA’s Headquarters in London, UK - with a global audience tuning in online. The digital event featured tributes from architects around the world, including Frank Gehry, Álvaro Siza and Benedetta Tagliabue; a discussion between RIBA President Simon Allford and Balkrishna Doshi about his lifetime achievements and philosophy on architecture, and an audience Q&A.
Given in recognition of a lifetime’s work, the Royal Gold Medal is given to a person or group of people who have had a significant influence “either directly or indirectly on the advancement of architecture”. Awarded since 1848, past Royal Gold Medallists include Sir David Adjaye OBE (2021), Dame Zaha Hadid (2016), Frank Gehry (2000), Lord Norman Foster (1983), Frank Lloyd Wright (1941) and Sir George Gilbert Scott (1859).
With a 70-year career and over 100 built projects, Balkrishna Doshi has influenced the direction of architecture in India and its adjacent regions through both his practice and his teaching. His buildings combine pioneering modernism with vernacular, informed by a deep appreciation of the traditions of India’s architecture, climate, local culture and craft. His projects include administrative and cultural facilities, housing developments and residential buildings. He 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.
Born in 1927 in Pune, India, to an extended family of furniture makers, Balkrishna Doshi studied at the J J School of Architecture, Bombay, before working for four years with Le Corbusier as Senior Designer (1951-54) in Paris and four more years in India to supervise projects in Ahmedabad. He worked with Louis Kahn as an associate to build the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, and they continued to collaborate for over a decade. He founded his own practice, Vastushilpa in 1956 with two architects. Today Vastushilpa is a multi-disciplinary practice with ﬁve partners spanning three generations and has sixty employees. The practice invites dialogue and its philosophy of pro-active participation even applies to their office space – which has an open door, inviting passers-by to drop in.
Doshi’s key projects include: Shreyas Comprehensive School Campus (1958-63), Ahmedabad, India; Atira Guest House (1958), Ahmedabad, low cost housing; the Institute of Indology (1962), Ahmedabad, 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; 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.
Balkrishna Doshi said:
“I am pleasantly surprised and deeply humbled to receive the Royal Gold Medal from the Queen of England. What a great honour! The news of this award brought back memories of my time working with Le Corbusier in 1953 when he had just received the news of getting the Royal Gold Medal. I vividly recollect his excitement to receive this honour from Her Majesty. He said to me metaphorically, ‘I wonder how big and heavy this medal will be.’ 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.”
RIBA President, Simon Allford said:
“It was an honour and a pleasure to chair the committee that selected Balkrishna Doshi as the 2022 Royal Gold Medallist. At ninety-four years old he has influenced generations of architects through his delightfully purposeful architecture. An original and independent thinker – he is 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: it’s climate, technologies new and old and crafts.
Balkrishna Doshi’s outstanding contribution to the art of architecture, the craft of construction and the practice of urban design establish him as a most deserving recipient of this award. It was my honour to present him with the medal, and to have been able to celebrate with him, alongside a global audience.”
In recognition of his distinguished contribution as a professional and as an academician, Balkrishna Doshi was made a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2021. He is the recipient of the Padma Bhushan, Government of India (2020); The Pritzker Architecture Prize (2018); the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (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) and the Gold Medal, Academy of Architecture of France (1988).
The 2022 Royal Gold Medal selection committee, chaired by architect and RIBA President Simon Allford, comprised: Sir David Adjaye OBE, architect and recipient of the 2021 Royal Gold Medal for Architecture; Alison Brooks, Principle and Creative Director of Alison Brooks Architects; Kate Cheyne, architect and Head of Leicester School of Art, Design and Architecture at De Montfort University and Dr Gus Casely-Hayford OBE, founding Director of V&A East and Professor of Practice at SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies in London).
RIBA’s Royal Gold Medal is sponsored by Arper.
Citation on Balkrishna Doshi by the 2022 RIBA Honours Committee:
Balkrishna Vithaldas Doshi has been practising architecture and designing and delivering
outstanding buildings and places for over seventy years. Trained in Mumbai he began practice in Europe working closely with Le Corbusier. He returned to India in his late twenties to help supervise Corbusier’s projects in Ahmedabad before setting up his own studio to work collaboratively with Louis Kahn on the Indian Institute of Management campus, also in Ahmedabad.
His personal influence as a practitioner and educator has grown from there. Through his teaching and his practice he has helped define the direction of architecture in India and much of the adjacent regions. But even more importantly his development of and advocacy for an architectural language of material economy and elegance and delight - is ever more relevant to all architects working in today’s challenging times. Doshi is a visionary constructor of ideas who works with form and light. He is also a constructor of an appropriate vernacular for and of the places in which he works. His many wonderful buildings celebrate the local technologies and crafts as well as the natural habitat to create environments that are legible, hard-working backdrops joyfully accommodating the theatre of everyday life. Once visited and studied it is soon apparent that they are also wonderful essays in the careful interplay of formal themes and technologies. Importantly building and nature are always intertwined to create a brave, confident and on occasion challenging architecture of purpose and delight. Architecture as background and foreground.
Doshi, now in his nineties, works every day and remains as prolific as he is inspirational. A living testament to the potential of an architectural history of ideas, passed through practice and education from one generation to the next. An architecture that is always evolving to help define a better future.
Notes to editors:
- For more press information contact: Isabel.Campbell@riba.org or +44 (0) 20 7307 3763
- Images can be downloaded here: https://riba.box.com/v/2022RoyalGoldMedal
- For more information on the Royal Gold Medal, which was first awarded in 1848, go to: https://www.architecture.com/awards-and-competitions-landing-page/awards/royal-gold-medal
- More on the 2022 Royal Gold Medal Honours Committee, chaired by RIBA President Simon Allford can be found here: https://www.architecture.com/knowledge-and-resources/knowledge-landing-page/meet-the-honours-committee-2022
- Balkrishna Doshi – Biography
Pritzker Laureate Padma Bhushan Balkrishna Doshi, OAL, AAAL was born in Pune in August 26th, 1927 to an extended Hindu family of furniture makers. After initial architectural study at the J J School of Architecture, Bombay, he worked for four years with Le Corbusier as Senior Designer (1951-54) in Paris and four more years in India to supervise the latter’s projects in Ahmedabad. 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. He founded his own practice, Vastushilpa in 1956 with two architects. Today Vastushilpa has ﬁve partners spanning three generations and has sixty employees. Together they have completed more than 100 projects since the inception of the ﬁrm.
Doshi also established the Vastu-Shilpa Foundation for Studies and Research in Environmental Design to evolve indigenous design and planning standards for built environments appropriate to the socio-cultural and environmental milieu of India.
Prof. Doshi is equally known as educator and an institution builder. As an academician, Prof. Doshi has been visiting the U.S.A. and Europe since 1958 and has held important chairs in American Universities.
Doshi has been a member on the Jury of several international and national competitions including the Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts, Steering Committee of Aga Khan Award for Architecture and Pritzker Architecture Prize.
In recognition of his distinguished contribution as a professional and as an academician, Doshi was made Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letter in 2021; he is the recipient of the Padma Bhushan, Government of India (2020); The Pritzker Architecture Prize (2018); 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); Gold Medal, Academy of Architecture of France (1988) to name a few. www.sangath.org
- The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) is a global professional membership body that serves its members and society in order to deliver better buildings and places, stronger communities and a sustainable environment. Follow @RIBA on Twitter for updates.