From student to co-tutor: Prof BV Doshi's former student traces her journey with the great architect 

Snehal Nagarsheth

Prof BV Doshi — the name is synonymous with teacher, guide and mentor, and I was fortunate to have been able to consider him as family. We might have lost his physical being, but his teachings shall continue to educate and inform us and also generations to come. He was an institution in himself with an immense yearning to share his knowledge and inspire.

My first encounter with his enigmatic personality was at my interview at the School of Architecture CEPT University, Ahmedabad. One panellist from the nine present for the interview asked me which building I liked the most. I distinctly recollect the twinkle in his eyes, listening to the answer of an 18-year-old who was yet to start her architectural journey. This was Prof BV Doshi, someone who listens, teaches and helps you evolve as a person and as an architect.

I was fortunate to have known him not only as a great teacher but was humbled to have continued my association with him as a co-tutor. I distinctly remember a discussion with him on one of our travels on how the knowledge of history is important, not just of architecture, but also of cultural references like folklore, food, language and music. This was important to him as it allowed him to create spaces reverberating these values. He imbued meaning through philosophical perspectives to the everyday and elevated it to become memorable and worthwhile.

During my time at CEPT, his teachings, stories and insights taught me to look at spatiality not as a still object but as a dynamic experience. These learning on how to experience architecture have stayed with me throughout my practice and my academic endeavours.

At Anant National University, I have worked on the curriculum and the pedagogy to be able to perceive architecture not just as a built entity but also as an experiential realm. We encourage our students to discuss architecture as a narrative of light, and volume and as a human-centred tale. Another important aspect of his personality was his ability to always be connected to his inner child. This I believe is important in the field of design as it allows one to explore, innovate and stay curious which I always encourage my students and faculty members to live by.

I will always cherish his visit to my home recently where we had an opportunity to walk down memory lane and also discuss the future of architecture and education. Doshi kaka shall always be in my memory and I am grateful to have experienced my life at my alma mater, conceived by this great mind, which I believe has shaped me to be the person I am. I am humbled by his presence in my life and he shall cherish the association.

(Prof Snehal Nagarsheth teaches Architect - Urban Designer and is Dean and Professor, School of Architecture at Anant National University. She is also former student of Prof BV Doshi)

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