“To be creative means to be in love with life. You can be creative only if you love life enough that you want to enhance its beauty, you want to bring a little more music to it, a little more poetry to it, a little more dance to it.” … Osho
Well, one can hate or dislike this man but one can’t disagree (even though many won’t agree openly) to this man’s logic especially when it’s about living or say life at large! And when I started my tribute to Dr. Architect Balkrishna aka BV Doshi its Osho’s words come to my rescue as I could have used BV sir’s words also (and trust me there are many of them) yet knowing him (by what my exposure with him was) he would be happier by use of someone else’s wisdom word of which he was so fond of! Well, I won’t spend much time in writing about honours or works of BV Doshi sir (will use BVD as short form) as those who will be interested in reading this sharing, most of them certainly knows about him a lot more than I know & those who doesn’t know who Mr VBVD was or just know him as one more architect, well you can google about his honours! Because some names or say some achievements only a fool tries to measure them on the success scale of volume or money or such things & its ok as in the era where success is measured on likes or retwitt figures, what you can expect! Yet some honours have their own value as they have been tested on the scale of time & gaining respect from other such achievers & one such BVD has received is, Pritzker Prize of 2018, which is considered as Noble Prize of Architecture & I will say that it was too late to award Mr BVD this prize as he should have got it nearly 35 years back such are his credentials!
That way in this country architecture is always considered as just a profession & never get respected really for the art part of it & main reason is mostly (read as for common man) architects makes home which are built by builders & anything related to the builders get recognition for only one thing & that’s money making & never respect. And that’s the reason, works of Mr BVD likes never got true respect for their creations, had he been in any western or far eastern country he would have been a celebrity by now! But then Mr BVD was beyond all such things, though with all due respect in that creative mind there was a business compartment too & again that’s because of the place he is from i.e., Gujrat where business is in DNA of most, so that’s fine. And, it may not be at sale but that doesn’t mean it comes at free or no cost, which most people misunderstood it for! Rather Mr BVD knew his art’s value & never compromised with it, this itself shows power of the artist in him as in a profession which usually has to bend knees in front of the system (read a builder, govt, clients etc) he was always firm for what he has created & that’s near impossible for most of the architects, is I have witnessed. This reminds me Sahir Ludhiyanvi (well, he was poet or say song writer in Bollywood) who used to charge his fees One rupee more than that of singer, music composer, saying, it’s his words which matters most in any song getting popular so his fee will be always more than all others associated with the song! Here Mr BVD may not be rigid with his fee aspect but he was very clear that any building (structure) where he is the architect is his creation or say baby & he has first right to have any decision related to the respective structure & not very architect can dare to do so, this itself speaks about his greatness in the field he was in!
I myself am an engineer & at site there always is a tussle between engineer as well architects & other professionals as who is the boss & till I meet Mr BVD, some 25 years back (I was way younger then), I used to think I am the boss of my site but post meeting Mr BVD, my perception changed. It’s my site agreed as its everybody’s site who is associated with it yet final word is of an architect who designs that site (read as project or structure), is what I learnt, that’s effect of Mr BVD on me & that’s why I felt paying tribute to him! “Mr BVD passed peacefully today morning in Ahmadabad”, is the message I got on my WhatsApp from few common friends & my journeys or learning with him in last nearly 28 years flashed in my brain. “Visit the site often; give a patient ear to its murmur”, is his quote for the youngsters related to sites & this one sentence tells you how he is different. As most architects considers their work or say relation with site is via drawings & not much physical but BVD was different as he used to love to be at site & that’s why he could understand the language of dead i.e., cement, concrete, steel, wood, walls & such as he believed all these are alive then only you can really design & build a structure which is alive & that’s so true especially with home! On such background when I first meet BVD for construction of Savai Gandharva Monument building which he has agreed to design at fee Rs 1 only for the love of music & honour of Mr Bhimsen Joshi, who also was another legend by himself, I was all pepped up for the work & coldly Mr BVD told me, he won’t be working with an engineer who is a builder’s engineer as he doesn’t trust that we could build his building! Wow, not used to such insults on face, I said, give us a shot & then decide. Yet, he took me to his ongoing site Yashada Complex & explained to me the workmanship he wanted as well warned me that his reputation is, he gets the contractor to make losses as he simply asks to demolish the work if it's not up mark i.e., his mark! This was my first rendezvous with Architect BVD & entry to a school of not just architecture or construction but it was school of life, which I realized later! Not only we completed the Savai Gandharva Smarak building but it got the Best Concrete Structure of the Year award & credit fully goes to BVD only as we just followed what he told us to! Just to explain to you the complexity of the structure, those were not AutoCAD days at PMC building dept. & all the plans has to be in the hard copy form & the curves, as well everything about the shape of the building was such that the concerned officers were confused how to work out the floor area for FSI norms as nothing was in normal form, imagine what it would have taken to make it reality but BVD made it look so simple at site, that’s greatness!
And later after nearly eight years post that, I again got admission to BVD school & this time for a builder’s project i.e., DSK Vishva, at that time in year 2000, a project of nearly 5000 plus flats was out of imagination & when it’s decided to be done who else but Mr BVD’s name could have been there for such job. Again, I was project in-charge for construction & BVD asked me to come & live at his actual architectural school “Sangath” at Ahmadabad & there I learnt, how little I know about buildings! During that more than a month’s period (I was accompanied by my friend Prakash Kulkarni, who himself is a big name in the profession today) I was lucky to get personal teaching time from BVD & that included everything about life, not just buildings. We visited his created structures such as IIM Ahmedabad as well Institute of Fashion Design, we spoke about his works & he told me that how important it is to understand life before we start planning any structure as then only, we can make that structure to serve for the purpose at its best! At the same time, we discussed every aspect of planning, space utilization & let me tell you, he was humble to the core to acknowledge that he never understood the FSI concept & that’s why he wasn’t successful on name or fame with builders as well he never believed to design a building which will be an eye-catcher! Rather he said, "Why do you want to build something which will stand out from the surroundings & how you can call such a thing as home, was his question to me! This, I could correlate from my wildlife exposure, as he asked me, have you seen some trees in the forest which are different from other trees & birds making nests on such trees, never as it will be easy for other prey birds to locate such nests. In nature, BVD said nothing is designed to stand out & everything is created with some purpose, it's we the humans who want to stand out from others & in the process we spoil everything, even our buildings, was his philosophy!
Unfortunately post dsk Vishwa, I couldn’t remain for longer time in the school named BVD but what I learnt remained with me forever & distant learning was on till last month i.e., Dec 22 via WhatsApp sharing or calls! Mr BVD was unique & he wouldn’t have liked to be mentioned as he thought he was just too plain & part of the environment. A lot is there to learn from him not just about planning or workmanship but the way you should carry yourself also & that indeed is important as a times he was curt or straight to the extent of arrogance & that came from the love for his work & not because of just knowledge or experience, that’s the biggest difference one should understand! He loved his work to such a level that he was ready to make a loss at times for achieving the desired results yet was commercially professional not to offend people across in the process, that’s what I call balancing profession & passion! In today’s world where people get million likes by trying to stand out doing crazy things (check Insta), person like BVD are rare species who don’t wants to get their creation noticed but this is what nature needs actually & keeping this attitude towards work as well life alive will be the best tribute to Architect BVD, so be it! Thanks Mr BVD, for letting me in your school of life & making me able to take pride in what I create (not just build) & stick by what I have created with head high even if it may not be the best but for my effort to create the best! Sure, the Gods must be happy now & Vishwakarma afraid, with your presence in heaven to supervise his creations there!
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