A new film explores Indian architect BV Doshi’s work and the bigger question of the professional’s role in providing socially relevant architect
Doshi, Directed by Premjit Ramachandran reviewed by Megha Chand Inglis
“Corbusier had a profound impact on Doshi”, says Ramachandran, “but he has always sought to interpret Corbusier’s modernism through local conditions of site, climate and available technology.”
Apart from the practice of architecture, his most significant achievements include setting up two important institutions in Ahmedabad, Gujarat: the Centre for Environment, Planning & Technology (CEPT) in 1962, one of India’s best architecture schools; and the Vastu Shilpa Foundation in 1972, which conducts pioneering research into sustainability, traditional Indian settlements and available technology. He was also responsible for inviting Louis Kahn to design a campus for the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad.
The conversations explore the ideological foundations that ground his work. Sustainability, which is fundamental to his thinking, is practised in a holistic way ingeniously working with not only local climate, topography, availability of materials and skills — as seen at Sangath, his studio — but also in the adaptive quality of the built environment. Here the ability for incremental growth means that communities can thrive over generations without losing architectural quality — as seen at the LIC housing project in Ahmedabad.
This aspect, completely alien to UK nimbyism, is also not easily found in the works of Doshi’s contemporaries in India. His fascination with how people behave in public space, including memories of his own childhood “always wanting to be outside, playing” gave spatial order to the campus for CEPT and the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore. It was here that he set up the right conditions for social interaction between students.
“His ability to at once tackle architecture as both a modern structured and rigorous artefact as well as an intangible, archaic and philosophical idea made the work seem more rooted than his contemporaries,” says Bijoy Ramachandran, who conceived and researched the film.1
- 1. Source: http://www.bdonline.co.uk/culture/doshi’s-philosophy-of-place/3151075.article