The pandemic, climate change and equitable access are global triggers shifting today’s experience of metropolitan living, while predicted mass global migrations loom in the future. In this period of uncertainty, how do we envision our tomorrow? Internationally renowned architects Balkrishna Doshi and Moshe Safdie participated in a rare live virtual discussion to reconsider the question, ‘What makes a livable city?’ This program took place nearly half a century after Doshi and Safdie worked together on the Habitat Bill of Rights. Written in 1976, the Bill of Rights was conceived as a response to increases in urbanization in developing countries and, in part, as a timely guide to developing equitable housing in a period of rapid industrialization. This dialogue between two architects who redefined the foundations of how one views livable cities was moderated by Monica Chadha, Chicago LEED-certified architect and principal & founder of Civic Projects Architecture.
Balkrishna Doshi (b.1927) grew up in the atmosphere of the Indian independence movement championed by Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore. He began his architecture studies in 1947, the year India gained independence, at the Sir J.J. College of Architecture Bombay (Mumbai). Doshi moved to Paris to work under Le Corbusier in the 1950s. His association with Le Corbusier and later Louis Kahn lasted over a decade and familiarized the young architect with the vocabulary of modernist architecture, with a special emphasis on elemental forms and building materials.
In 1956, Doshi opened his own practice in Ahmedabad and called it Vastu-Shilpa. In 1962, at the age of 35, he founded the School of Architecture at the Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology (CEPT) in Ahmedabad. In 1978, Doshi established the Vastushilpa Foundation for Studies and Research in Environmental Design with the aim of developing indigenous design- and planning standards for built environments appropriate to the society, culture, and natural environment of India.
Doshi is the recipient of numerous awards and distinctions, including the Global Award for Lifetime Achievement for Sustainable Architecture, the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, and the Gold Medal of the Academy of Architecture of France, among others. He is a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects, the Indian Institute of Architects, and the Institut Français d’Architecture, and an Honorary Fellow of the American Institute of Architects. In 2018, he was the first Indian architect to be awarded the Pritzker Prize.
Moshe Safdie is an architect, urban planner, educator, theorist, and author. Over a celebrated 50-year career, Safdie has explored the essential principles of socially responsible design through a comprehensive and humane design philosophy. His wide range of completed projects include cultural, educational, and civic institutions; neighborhoods and public parks; housing; mixed-use urban centers and airports; and master plans for existing communities and entirely new cities. Safdie’s projects can be found in North and South America, the Middle East and throughout Asia.
A citizen of Israel, Canada and the United States, Safdie graduated from McGill University. In 1964 he established his own firm to realize Habitat ’67, an adaptation of his undergraduate thesis and a turning point in modern architecture.
Safdie has been the recipient of numerous awards, honorary degrees, and civil honors including the Companion of the Order of Canada, the Gold Medal from both the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada and the American Institute of Architects, the National Design Award for Lifetime Achievement by the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian, and recently the Wolf Prize in Architecture—awarded for a career motivated by the social concerns of architecture and formal experimentation.
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