India’s ‘architect for the poor’ wins Pritzker Prize

India’s Balkrishna Doshi, center in blue, who won the 2018 Pritzker Architecture Prize celebrates the announcement with his family members at his home in Ahmedabad, India, on Wednesday. (AP)
Updated 08 March 2018
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India’s ‘architect for the poor’ wins Pritzker Prize

BANGKOK: India’s Balkrishna Doshi, whose pared-back homes established his reputation as an architect for the poor, has been awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize, highlighting his sustainable, low-cost style in a rapidly modernizing country.
Doshi’s “solutions take into account the social, environmental and economic dimensions, and therefore his architecture is totally engaged with sustainability,” the prize jury said in a statement Wednesday.
He “constantly demonstrates that all good architecture and urban planning must not only unite purpose and structure but take into account climate, site, technique, and craft, along with a deep understanding and appreciation of context.”
Doshi, 90, is the first from India to win the $100,000 award, which was established by the Pritzker family in Chicago, and is considered the highest honor in architecture.
Born into a family that was in the furniture business for two generations, Doshi began his architecture studies in 1947, the year India gained independence from Britain.
After a stint in London, he returned to India and oversaw projects of the legendary architect Le Corbusier in Chandigarh and Ahmedabad. He also worked with the United States’ Louis Kahn, one of the world’s most revered architects.
“Infused with lessons from Western architects, he forged his artistic vision with a deep reverence for life, Eastern culture, and forces of nature to create an architecture that was personal,” the citation for the prize said.
“Alongside a deep respect for Indian history and culture, elements of his youth — memories of temples and bustling streets; scents of lacquer and wood from his grandfather’s furniture workshop — all find a way into his architecture.”
Doshi’s practice, Vastushilpa — later named Vastushilpa Foundation — has completed more than 100 projects including institutions, low-income housing projects, public spaces, galleries, and private homes.
“My works are an extension of my life, philosophy and dreams trying to create a treasury of the architectural spirit,” Doshi said in a statement in response to the announcement of the award.
Doshi’s commitment to sustainability and his holistic approach to urban design are particularly relevant now, as India urbanizes at a fast clip, said Rajeev Kathpalia, director of Vastushilpa Foundation.
At least six homes are destroyed and 30 people forcibly evicted each hour in India, with the government’s ‘Smart Cities’ projects responsible for most evictions, according to advocacy group Housing and Land Rights Network.
“His style is more relevant today than before, as a large number of people still need help with basic shelter,” Kathpalia told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“It is incumbent on the architect community to help them participate in the country’s transformation.”


Big-screen business in Saudi Arabia will be billion-dollar industry by 2030

Saudi Arabia is expected to become a significant box office market. (AFP)
Updated 23 September 2018
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Big-screen business in Saudi Arabia will be billion-dollar industry by 2030

  • Saudi has huge opportunities and is expected to become a significant box office market worth $1 billion (SR3.75 billion)

DUBAI: The big-screen business in Saudi Arabia will be a billion-dollar industry by 2030, according to experts, as regional and global movie operators queue up for a ticket into the Kingdom’s hugely profitable movie market.
Saudi Arabia is expected to amass the largest share of the cinema business in the Arabian Gulf region by 2030, with hundred of cinemas and thousands of screens set to open across the Kingdom over the next 12 years.
Within months of Saudi Arabia formally ending a 35-year-long ban on cinemas, three cinema operation licenses were awarded to operate in the Kingdom, the first was to AMC Theaters, an American chain owned and operated by Wanda Group. It opened the Kingdom’s first modern cinema on April 18 and plans to open around 40 cinemas in 15 cities in Saudi Arabia over the next five years, and between 50 to 100 cinemas in about 25 cities by 2030.
Shortly after, the second license was awarded to VOX Cinemas, now one of Saudi Arabia’s biggest movie operators. It plans to open 600 screens in Saudi Arabia in the next five years, the same number of screens as the company’s regional footprint combined.
In July, it was announced the the third license had been awarded to the Al-Rashed United Group — Empire Cinema — which plans to build 30 theaters in the country over the next three years. And last month, a fourth license was awarded to Lux Entertainment Co., which plans to open 300 cinemas across the Kingdom within five years.
VOX, which plans to open 80 new screens over the next 12 months, says the Kingdom will form half of its overall revenues in the Middle East over the next five years.
“Saudi has huge opportunities and is expected to become a significant box office market worth $1 billion (SR3.75 billion),” said Cameron Mitchell, CEO of Majid Al-Futtaim Cinemas, of which VOX Cinemas is a subsidiary.
He said the Kingdom’s box-office market is expected to become “one of the largest” in the world, with a majority of its 32-million population under the age of 30. “The market is massive and full of opportunities as the population is young and enthusiastic about cinema.”
Will Saudi Arabia ever host the world premiere of a Hollywood movie? No one’s saying right now, but with such a covetable box-office market, it may only be a matter of time.