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Balkrishna Doshi
(1927 -2023)

“I think the main purpose of architecture should be like a stone dropped into the lake, so that the ripples go right up to the edge. The role of an architect is to look at much wider horizons, much wider scopes and get into those things.”

The seeds of the Vastu-Shilpa Foundation for Research and Studies in Environmental Design (VSF) re-evaluate his work by means of research, studies, and discussion. Inspired by the example of Le Corbusier, he decided to set up a foundation for research in built-environment and habitat.

Since then VSF has looked back upon decades of work focused on understanding human habitats that have resulted into close to forty publications and research papers as well as ten documentaries till date. The foundation was established in 1978 as a public charitable trust and conceived as a link between academia and architecture. The VSF's activities also include conducting research into existing settlements in order to better understand relationships between human habitats and ecological, economic, and social systems. Such studies have guided the VSF in its development of environmentally appropriate design models and prototypes that are characteristic for the region. They have also encouraged multidisciplinary capabilities aimed at bringing integrated insights into the study of environmental problems. The VSF promotes and disseminates the knowledge it has acquired by means of studies and research in the form of publications, exhibitions, lectures, workshops, and seminars.

Since 2003 the foundation has also conducted international habitat design studios together with European universities that now serve as platforms for discussions, seminars and talks on current challenges and developing appropriate solutions for human habitats. In addition to its documentary work and post-occupancy studies, the foundation has been involved as voluntary advisors in restoring and extending Doshi's existing buildings.

After Doshi reached eighty in 2007, the foundation initiated a programme of archiving and documenting his works, which culminated in the retrospective exhibition Celebrating Habitat - The Real, the Virtual and the Imaginary held at New Delhi's National Gallery of Modern Art in 2014 and, subsequently, at the Power Station of Art in Shanghai in 2017. In collaboration with the Vitra Design Museum, this retrospective has been revisited and adapted to meet the requirements of a travelling exhibition. The exhibition, Balkrishna Doshi: Architecture for the People offered insights into the mind of the architect and his deep-rooted search to create 'living' architecture capable of celebrating human habitat.

In 2021, Balkrishna Doshi Archives was established with a vision to make Doshi's body of work accessible to a wider audience, while also preserving valuable archival material.The programmes and collection at the Archives are maintained by VSF, with an ongoing process of creating a physically accessible space. Currently, the catalogued archive consists of over 10,000 digitized drawings, photographs, sketches and films, with an ever-growing physical collection.

Following Doshi's passing on 24th January 2023, the relevance and role of the Archives in carrying forward his legacy has become all the more pertinent. We hope the Archives will serve to inspire, educate and enrich future generations of architecture students and professionals.

We at the Vastushilpa Foundation would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has supported the activities at VSF. Most importantly, we are indebted to Balkrishna Doshi for his unconditional guidance and for inspiring us and raising the right questions at the right time. Truly, it has been an enriching and encouraging journey of learning, reflection, and reinterpretation as we launch his online archives on his 96th birth anniversary on 26th August 2023.

Khushnu Panthaki Hoof
Director of the Vastushilpa Foundation | Balkrishna Doshi Archives