‘Installations are wonders’: Padma Shri B.V. Doshi

Kochi, Feb 18: Over his six-decade career, B.V. Doshi has created works that have influenced, even defined, architectural discourse in the sub-continent. For the world-renowned architect, however, works that resist easy definition and categorisation – such as the installations at the ongoing Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2016 – are the real ‘wonders’.

“Installations are not predefined. I have always loved to work on installations because they are not finite in scope. That is where true wonder lies,” said Doshi, during an evening conversation organised by the Kochi Biennale Foundation (KBF) at the Pavilion in Cabral Yard, Fort Kochi, on Friday. The Padma awardee had visited the Biennale earlier in the week.

Pointing out that the medium and tools used for the artworks themselves pose questions, Doshi said, “The installations at the Biennale are so contagious that it charges the whole city. I must say that KMB adds to the whole ethos of educational system.”

The discussion, part of the KBF’s popular ‘Let’s Talk’ series, was supported by HCL and Kiran Nadar Museum of Art. It was moderated by noted architect Aabid Raheem.

Over the course of the hour-long session, Doshi hailed the Biennale as a place that encouraged experimentation not just in art, but also in life. “This festival of contemporary art inspires people to try out new things and experiments. Moreover, organising an art event of this kind is an extremely progressive method of conserving a region’s heritage,” he said.

Doshi also narrated the stories of designing and constructing marvels like his iconic studio ‘Sangath’ in Ahmedabad, which is a distillation of all the architectural themes he favours – complex interiors, sunken structures, ambiguous edges, vaults, connects to nature and terraces.

He also recounted working with M.F. Husain in ‘Amdavad ni gufa’, his iconic underground art gallery also in Ahmedabad that exhibits works by the late master artist. The gallery, built in the mid-90s, has long represented the unique collaborative potential of architecture and art.

 “My office ‘Sangath’ and M.F. Hussain’s gallery ‘Gufa’ were both green projects and we had to encounter a lot of challenges,” he said, urging the capacity audience to “observe nature and do what you enjoy the most. Take risks and have a desire to get better and better”.

Doshi’s own architectural contributions reflect this philosophy of risk-taking and self-betterment, bringing an aesthete’s eye to the functional and bridging traditional with the modern. His practice, working across spaces and styles, from residences and public spaces to offices and educational facilities, made him a central figure in discussions on sustainable design.


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