Wrightwood 659, in collaboration with STIRworld.com, join architect Balkrishna Doshi and Architecture for the People curator Khushnu Panthaki Hoof as they reflect on the Indian master’s decades-long career and the process of composing the first North American retrospective of his work. Doshi and Hoof engage with questions of mastery, mentorship and humanitarian design, prompted by architectural students and academics facilitated by Wrightwood 659 Curatorial Consultant Gina Pollara.
This event is pre-recorded in partnership with Stir Magazine.
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.
Khushnu Panthaki Hoof graduated as an architect from the School of Architecture, CEPT University. She is a partner architect at Vastu Shilpa Consultants since 2003 and the Associate Director of the Vastu Shilpa Foundation for studies & research in Environmental Design.
Her research thesis was based on the synaesthetic experience of architecture – case study : Fatehpur Sikri.
She has worked on several projects with Balkrishna V Doshi since 2003 and continues to work on extensions / preservation of some his earlier buildings. Apart from that Khushnu and her architect husband Sonke Hoof have been involved with several independent residential & institutional projects in India. Their work has been recognised and published in several magazines in India & abroad.
The main focus of their works and practice has been to create spaces which allow & encourage the permeability of environment and human behaviour into their manifestation.
Khushnu has been involved with designing and putting together of several publications such as ‘Paths Uncharted’ – an autobiographical writing of Balkrishna Doshi as well as ‘Talks – by Balkrishna Doshi’ – a compilation of 5 of Prof. Doshi’s very important talks/interviews. In recent times, she has been involved with documenting early works of Balkrishna Doshi and their post occupancy studies. As the associate director of VSF she was also involved with the International Habitat Design Studio hosted by VSF from 2003 to 2015 in collaboration with universities from Europe.
Her architectural photographs have been published in many books including the cover of A+U , Japan in 2007. Her interests in toy making & hand block printed textile design add to her personality. Some of her textile designed products are available at stores across India.
In 2014 she was invited by the National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi, Ministry of Culture to curate the retrospective exhibition of Balkrishna Doshi titled ‘Celebrating Habitat’ – The Real, The Virtual & The Imaginary. This exhibition was highly appreciated by the architectural fraternity in India & elsewhere. This exhibition was also showcased at the The Power Station of Art Museum in Shanghai from July 2017 to October 2017 by invitation.
‘Celebrating Habitat’ – 4 min film & the 90 min documenary on Prof. Balkrishna Doshi was curated by her for the exhibition. This film later became the official selection at the Milano Design Film Festival in 2015.
Most recently, Gina Pollara served as interim Chief Operating Officer of Wrightwood 659. She was executive director of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park from 2006 to 2013 and oversaw construction of the memorial designed by Louis Kahn. She holds a B.Arch. from the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, and a B.A. from Bennington College.
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