Culture

5 things you didn't know about architect BV Doshi

For starters he's the only Indian ever to win the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize

Growing up in a family that ran a furniture business, then joining JJ School of Art in Mumbai because he was “good at drawing” and much later, meeting by chance with Le Corbusier that blossomed from mentorship to lifetime friendship…Dr BV Doshi’s story is nothing short of humbling. 

He has been a leading voice of sustainable living for over six decades now. But it is his sensitive work ethic that has made him an important figure and a force to reckon with for generations of architects – including his granddaughter Khushnu Panthaki Hoof, who designed and curated his restrospective exhibition at New Delhi’s NGMA early this year (“Khusnu’s grandest design till date,” he praises).

Whether it’s his office Sangath, the symbolic Amdavad ni Gufa or his own modern minimalist home, he amazes with his ability to reinterpret the traditional in the present socio-cultural context and its relation to nature and climate in every structure. While many have worked with, studied about and have even been taught by the legendary architect, not many know the lover of art, music, hobbyist painter and a hopeful filmmaker….

1. A large part of his childhood was spent tinkering in his father’s carpentry workshop“The mess didn’t bother me,” he shrugs. “I still remember the smell of wood shavings and polishes. The carpenters would allow me to paint too, sometimes.”  

2. He’s a huge fan of Satyajit Ray’s movies. If he had to single one out though, his choice is easy. “Pather Panchali fascinated me the most. The composition, expressions, informality in relationships were all realistically portrayed.” He enjoys a movie so much sometimes, because he feels he’s a part of its story. “A good film is  beyond entertainment. It’s a joy of understanding or feeling an experience you've never had before….” 

3. Given the chance, he’d write a play about Gandhiji’s invention of the chakra. “Even if it were a movie, it would also talk about how kids and adults can use it too, to feel more relaxed and less agitated,” explains Dr Doshi. “I want to show the meaning of quietness, stillness…a feeling of slowness that’s fulfilling.”

4. He used to secretly record live classical concerts on his handy tape recorder. “I love collecting music,” he admits. He still has tapes of Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, Kumar Gandharva and Ravi Shankar, performing live.  

5. He’s a great abstract painter too. “For the NGMA show, for the first time ever rather, I did 10 large canvases in oil acrylic – each denoting my understanding of what a painting should be.” 

Photography by Fabien Charauau for ELLE DECOR India