The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) announced that Indian architect Balkrishna Doshi will be the recipient of the 2022 Royal Gold Medal. The distinction, approved by Her Majesty The Queen and awarded each year since 1848, is given to architects or practices in recognition of a lifetime’s work and the impact on the evolution of the field and the built environment. With a career spanning over six decades, Balkrishna Doshi has had a paramount influence in shaping the architecture of India through a pioneering interplay of modernism and vernacular that translated into projects that celebrate local culture, context and craft.
One of the most renowned Indian architects, the 2018 Pritzker Laureate has forged a distinct architectural philosophy and expression, informed both by modernist values and local traditions. His urban planning strategies and social housing projects brought him international recognition, further solidified by his academic work as a visiting professor at various universities worldwide. His work spans a variety of programs and scales, including administrative and cultural buildings, educational facilities, housing developments and residential buildings. Some of these projects include Shreyas Comprehensive School Campus, Ahmedabad School of Architecture, Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore, Aranya Low-Cost Housing.
At ninety-four years old, he has influenced generations of architects through his delightfully purposeful architecture. Influenced by his time spent in the office of Le Corbusier, his work nevertheless is that of an original and independent thinker – 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: its 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 - RIBA President Simon Allford.
Born in 1927 in Pune, India, Doshi studied architecture at the J J School of Architecture, Bombay, after which he went on to work with Le Corbusier in Paris as Senior Designer between 1951 and 1954 and then for four more years in India, supervising projects in Ahmedabad. He established a decade long collaboration with Louis Kahn, which began with the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad. In 1956, Doshi founded his practice, Vastushilpa, together with two other architects. Today, the practice has sixty employees and operates on values such as dialogue and pro-active participation, producing an ever-evolving architecture.
I am pleasantly surprised and deeply humbled to receive the Royal Gold Medal from the Queen of England. 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. - Balkrishna Dosh
The Royal Gold Medal honours Doshi’s “advocacy for an architectural language of material economy and elegance and delight”, as well as his vision and commitment to local technologies and craft. The accolade is a further acknowledgement of Doshi’s influence as a practitioner and educator, as well as the relevance of his design philosophy for contemporary architecture. The architect will be presented with the distinction within a special ceremony in 2022.