Power Station of Art, Shanghai is proud to present Balkrishna Doshi: Celebrating Habitat—The Real, the Virtual & the Imaginary, the first retrospective exhibition in China for Balkrishna Doshi, highly acclaimed Indian architect, urban planner, educator, academician and institution builder.The exhibition showcases more than 30 pieces of the Indian architect’s notable works, including personal and public housing, community projects, educational institution, urban planning and furniture design. Represented in multiple scales, these architecture projects aim to construct a philosophical retrospection of Doshi’s practice spanning 62 years, hoping to inspire young Chinese architects about the possibility of the application of modernist architecture in China, and at the same time, invite the audience to experience architecture as the celebration of habitat.Body and Experience—Two Critical Dimensions
Three fundamental issues—the relationship of mind and architecture, the relevance of architecture to society, and the rapidly changing social context since the early 1950s—form Balkrishna Doshi’s career-long journey of questioning, pondering, and wondering. He believes that architecture is not what one calls a passive space, form or structure, but rather, an extension of our body as well as a part of us. Only buildings that are in rapport with life are worth celebrating.Thus, body and experience become two important dimensions for the exhibition. The entrance to the exhibition space is the entrance to his home, the Kamala House, and symbolically visitors enter his world, with an invitation to use their body as a physical scale. And to heighten the impact of space and its relations to body, eye and movement, the installations for the Sangath Architect’s Studio and the Amdavad ni Gufa are created, with their false perspectives creating an illusion of real and surreal, a myth that Doshi constantly refers to. Beyond those, the Aranya Low Cost Housing is represented in an interactive way, while installation-specific music adds another sensual dimension to the “Indian Modern” experience for the Chinese audience. Presenting Doshi’s design works of furniture, architecture and city in different scales, curator Ms Hoof breaks up the exhibition into discrete, intimate spaces, with models, paintings, sketches, photos, videos, and even music.Western modernist architectural theories adapted to India’s context
Doshi’s architectural works mirror his life in full–a combination of an apprenticeship in the West—four years of work at Le Corbusier’s studio in Paris from 1951 and his cooperation with Louis Kahn over the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, and a childhood life in India has been reflected in his life-long meditation and creation. But within the social context of India’s Post-Independence Era, Western modernist architectural theories, in Doshi’s practices, were adapted to suit not just the local environment and climate, but India’s ethos, people and circumstances as well, including nationalist spiritual guidance by some of India’s greatest minds like Mohandas Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore.Doshi’s own studio, Vastu-Shilpa, was founded in 1955. He then launched the Vastu-Shilpa Foundation for Studies and Research in Environmental Design, famous for its pioneering works in affordable housing and city planning. In 1962, Doshi became the first Founder Director of School of Architecture, Ahmedabad (1962–72), an important cradle for India’s local architects, and a vanguard and source of the country’s modern architectural and planning education.Modernism, a spatial religion that has been difficult to bypass, on one hand provided a reference system of relevance for the West to judge Indian architecture, but on the other, became a kind of invisible shackles for India’s new generation of architects after 1930. Pioneers of India’s modern architecture movement, such as Balkrishna Doshi, Charies Correa, and Raj Rewal have been providing important references for the coming generations. This prompts us to wonder—why didn’t Modernism take over China’s spatial planning and design within specific historical periods? Is it really suitable for China? Can we traverse Modernism to find our own architectural vocabulary and syntax? With Balkrishna Doshi: Celebrating Habitat—The Real, the Virtual & the Imaginary, PSA is hoping that we can find some answers and inspirations.
source: e-flux Architecture