Laurie Baker




Laurence Wilfred "Laurie" Baker (2 March 1917 – 1 April 2007) was a British-born Indian architect, renowned for his initiatives in cost-effective energy-efficient architecture and designs that maximized space, ventilation and light and maintained an uncluttered yet striking aesthetic sensibility. Influenced by Mahatma Gandhi and his own experiences in the remote Himalayas, he promoted the revival of regional building practices and use of local materials; and combined this with a design philosophy that emphasized a responsible and prudent use of resources and energy. He was a pioneer of sustainable architecture as well as organic architecture, incorporating in his designs even in the late 1960s, concepts such as rain-water harvesting, minimizing usage of energy-inefficient building materials, minimizing damage to the building site and seamlessly merging with the surroundings. Due to his social and humanitarian efforts to bring architecture and design to the common man, his honest use of materials, his belief in simplicity in design and in life, and his stauch Quaker belief in non-violence, he has been called the "Gandhi of architecture". He moved to India in 1945 in part as an architect associated with a leprosy mission and continued to live and work in India for over 50 years. He became an Indian citizen in 1989 and resided in Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum), Kerala from 1963 and served as the Director of COSTFORD (Centre of Science and Technology for Rural Development), an organisation to promote low-cost housing. In 1981, the Royal University of the Netherlands conferred an honour (the previous recipient of this honour, in 1980, was Hassan Fathy of Egypt) upon him for outstanding work in a Third World country. In 1983 he was conferred with an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) at Buckingham Palace. In 1990, the Government of India awarded him the Padma Shri for his meritorious service in the field of architecture. In 1992, he was awarded the Roll of Honour by the United Nations. In 1988, he was granted Indian citizenship, the only honour he actively pursued in his life.

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