Padma Shri Prof. G. Shankar has always given priority to the housing needs of the common man, the marginalized, the fisher folk, the slum dwellers and tribals, which has earned him the title of 'people's architect'. He completed his architecture studies from CET (1982 batch) and later did M.S. from Birmingham School of Architecture, UK and Post Graduate Diploma in Journalism. He is the pioneer of a people’s housing movement based on cost effective and sustainable building technologies in India.
He draws inspiration from the architect Laurie Baker and has relentlessly engaged in bringing about social development through architecture. In recognition of his distinguished progress in this field, Govt. of India in 2011 awarded Shri G Shankar with Padmashree - the fourth highest civilian award in India.
In 1987 He had founded the Habitat Technology Group, which became the largest NGO in the shelter sector in South Asia. It constitutes of responding centers in India and in other developing countries like Bangladesh, Srilanka and Nigeria. Presently it is a group of 400 professionals with a support base of 30000 trained habitat workers.
Being an advocate of cost effective, eco-friendly and sustainable building technologies, he has headed some notable projects such as the Largest Earth building in the world - 6,00,000 sq. ft. in Dhaka, Bangladesh; Rehabilitation housing colonies for Tribals, Dalits and fishermen in Kerala, Tamilnadu, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa.
Since 1987 he is UN Consultant for disaster mitigation (Srilanka & Maldives) and also the Chairman of the National Committee constituted by the Government of India to formulate guidelines on disaster resistant building technologies.
For over three decades, Padma Shri recipient Gopal Shankar has been at the forefront of sustainable architecture in not just India, but around the world. More importantly, however, from his office in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, he has empowered those living on the margins to build quality homes with their meagre resources. Today, vegetable vendors and traditional fishermen in the city come to his office to design their homes. The masses of this country have an architect they can approach.
Images source: https://www.habitattechnologygroup.org/