Pioneer of Modern Architecture in Independent India - Charles Correa, an Architect, Town Planner and an Activist

Sep 15, 2015 -- The association and attraction towards architecture design sprouted from the rail tracts that he laid for toy trains as a kid. Several possibilities of creating patterns, layout and environment from and around these rail tracts inspired him to take up art and architecture as a profession. Yes, we are referring to the widely acclaimed Town Planner, Activist and An Architect – Charles Mark Correa, born on September 1, 1930 in Secunderabad - India.

Charles Correa studied at St Xaviers College and later went to Architecture school at Michigan, and there after acquired a Master’s Degree in 1995 from the Massachusetts Institute of technology. This was the place, his Alma matter for which he designed the ‘ Institute for brain and cognitive science in 2005.

Correa returned to India and started practicing in 1958, however; the project that brought him recognition and became a stepping stone to his journey as a celebrated and respected Indian architect was the Gandhi Ashram in Ahmadabad, Gujarat - India. This was not just another building, Correa brought in the virtues of the man known as ‘The Mahatma’ into the building. The brick and concrete building, with stone floor and pitched roof pavilions demonstrated the authentic Indian modernity, and thus was born the post-independence modern Indian architecture.

The list of such remarkable Building design projects includes the Madhya Pradesh legislative assembly in Bhopal, the National Crafts Museum in New Delhi, Bharat Bhavan in Bhopal, Jawahar Kala Kendra in Jaipur, City Centre in Kolkatta and the Champalimaud Center for the Unknown in Lisbon.

Charles Correa, the legendary architect, called himself a planner and had great understanding of Architecture and urbanity. He was a visionary and had well etched views on planning cities with low cost urban dwellings. He founded the Urban Design Research Institute in Bombay and contributed immensely towards creating low cost urban dwellings in the third world countries. Passionate about rebuilding cities and stopping them from disintegrating into a cesspool of stark contrasts, is what he always spoke of. About Mumbai, he said that it was a ‘great city, terrible place’, and wanted to transform it into a better place to live. For this he had in mind the concept of a banyan tree, a shelter for all, and he called it ‘ A place in the Shade’ and also penned a book of the same name.

The noted Architect received a lot of recognition and won several awards including the Padma Shri (1972), RIBA Royal Gold Medal (1984), Praemium Imperiale (1994), 7th Aga Khan Award for Architecture (1998), Australian Decoration for Science and Art (2005), Padma Vibhushan (2006).

In an interview Correa once said ‘I have never designed a glass building’- he believed in the open to sky spaces and sustainable building design and had always dreamt of transforming Mumbai into a city that provided shelter to all. His dream remained un-fulfilled; he felt frustrated, yet never lost hope. He believed that tradition and modernity are not opposites, and that it is possible (is the best) to create contemporary spaces - Interior Design, Exterior Design, Landscapes etc, with prevailing resources, climate and cultural traditions as the primary determinants. During the last few years of his life he dedicated his time in research work involving development of green alternatives and energy efficient building design. He was also actively involved in research work forwater recycling alternatives andrenewable energy adoption for rural habitats.

Hi-Tech mourns the death of “India’s greatest Architect” Charles Correa and salutes him for his immense contribution to the field of architecture. We resolve to keep alive the undying will and efforts of the legendry architect via our green initiatives, CSR activities, 3D CAD design, energy modeling and architectural design services that are aimed at introducing sustainability and innovation to building design. His philosophy and work inspires us to help the industry Design, Construct and operate buildings - efficiently and effortlessly.

About Author:

Bhushan Avsatthi is an Associate Director at Hi-Tech Outsourcing Services. Bhushan imbibes the prophecy of efficient and prudent use of energy in his day to day life and advices his team to do so as well. He is also involved in green initiatives like nonprofit tree plantation project and promotes using cycles for commuting small distances. Bhushan, handles a team of architects, Structural and MEP engineers, LEED consultants and Energy modeling experts.

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