designboom visits balkrishna doshi's first international retrospective at VITRA design museum

designboom visits balkrishna doshi's first international retrospective at VITRA design museum

designboom recently visited balkrishna doshi’s new exhibition at the vitra design museum. titled ‘balkrishna doshi: architecture for the people’, the exhibition displays projects spanning the architect’s entire career including housing projects, educational buildings and even his own studio in sangath. the show is the 2018 pritzker prize laureate’s first retrospective outside asia and is on display at the museum until september 8th, 2019.

all images © vitra design museum unless otherwise noted


vitra design museum’s newest subject is the pioneer of modernist architecture in india and the designer of over 15 buildings in his home country. balkrishna doshi’s indian upbringing coupled with his western exposure to modernist masters such as le corbusier and louis kahn enabled doshi to develop a unique design approach, showcased in the exhibition. a combination of modern architecture with vernacular forms make his projects global yet still relevant today, and make him a deserving pritzker prize holder.



the exhibition presents doshi’s work in four main themes, dividing his projects into sections. the first theme includes a look at the architect’s educational buildings and his role within these institutions including the ‘ahmedabad school of architecture’. this is an institution that apart from designing, he was the founder of, and now the institution is known as the center of environmental planing and technology (CEPT). the second theme follows his influence on social housing, the creation of identity and its connection to the home. a main project in the second section of his retrospective is the ‘aranya low cost housing’ project shown in the exhibition in poster-sized photographs, different scale models and even a painted wooden model meant to be played with and moved around so children and adults alike can recreate the housing configurations.



the third theme includes doshi’s projects regarding interdisciplinary institutions the architect designed. this section features the campus for the indian institute of management in bangalore, a building that became an important hub for thinkers of the time and is still now a pilgrimage site for architecture students and practicing architects. the final theme covered in the exhibition involves the architect’s larger scale work concerning town planning projects such as masterplans and urban design guidelines for the outskirts of jaipur. some of these masterplans are represented in brightly colored mural paintings, on display at the museum. 


image © designboom


matching the architect’s own projects, the exhibition was designed as a non-linear sequence of spaces. it is meant to be explored freely and invites visitors to discover their own path through the displayed models, pieces of furniture and colorful drawings. this concept ties into doshi’s design philosophy of creating spaces for people to feel comfortable and at home, and make his buildings their own.



the visitors become enveloped in the exhibition since the moment they walk in. they are encouraged to walk around full scale models, walk into them and even play with housing models to explore the experiences and connectivity between them. his vibrant, extensive drawings match the colorful walls that house the exhibition and the soothing background original music places the visitors in the architect’s native landscape.



the retrospective not only captures some of the architect’s greatest works but is also a refreshing reminder of doshi’s ideals and the social context in which he created his projects. although he completed some works a couple of decades ago, the topics explored in the exhibtion are still applicable to the architecture of the present. his underlying humanist philosophy and poetic view of architecture places the discipline within a larger context of culture, society and ethics.


image © designboom


image © designboom


exhibition info:


exhibition name: balkrishna doshi: architecture for the people

date: 30 march 2019 – 8 september 2019

curated by: khushnu panthaki hoof

location: vitra design museum

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