Remembering Ar Charles Correa- Considered India’s Greatest Architect

Ar Charles Correa was one of the most celebrated architects of modern India. With around 100 buildings under his credit that include from a low- income housing to the Urban planning of an entire city (Navi Mumbai) and a career spanning six decades, Ar Charles Correa passed away on June 16th, 2015.  

Modern Architect with Traditional values

Hailed as "India's greatest architect" by the Royal Institute of British Architects in its 2013 retrospective of his work, Correa was a modern architect with traditional values. His disdain from, the so-called glass buildings was evident from his work where he subsequently made all his buildings responsive to the environment. Working on the 'open sky' concept, Charles Correa was an ardent advocate of techniques including smart shading, intelligent use of building orientation, controlled breeze, and methods to enhance heat absorption abilities of masonry. Such techniques were not only used in the small scale houses but deeply embedded in his most famous structures including the Gandhi Ashram in Ahmedabad, Jawahar Kala Kendra in Jaipur, the British Council in Delhi, and to even high-rise buildings.

Jawahar Kala Kendra, Jaipur

Awards and accolades

Some of the notable buildings of the Ar Charkes Correa include Gandhi Memorial Museum in Ahmedabad, India, completed when he was just 28 years old; the State Assembly building for Madhya Pradesh in India; the Kanchanjunga Apartments in Mumbai, India; and the Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown in Lisbon, Portugal. During his lifetime, Charles Correa was conferred by many awards and accreditations. He was awarded 'Padma Shri', the fourth highest civilian award in India in 1972 along with the Royal Gold Medal for architecture by the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1984. In 2006, he bagged Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian honour by Government of India.  

With a long relationship with the Aga Khan Foundation, starting off in 1977 as a member to 2014 with one of Correa’s last building projects completed when he was 84 — the Ismaili Centre, adjacent to the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, Canada.

Kanchanjunga Apartments, Mumbai

Some famous quotes by Ar Charles Correa that will keep providing inspiration to us:

  • "Market forces do not make cities, they destroy them."

  •  "Architecture has become too mundane."

  •  “Certainly architecture is concerned with much more than just its physical attributes. It is a many-layered thing. Beneath and beyond the strata of function and structure, materials and texture, lie the deepest and most compulsive layers of all.”

  • "The complex and ambiguous relationship between man and nature is central to Indian architecture."

  •  "Architecture is not a queue in which we all have to line up, with perhaps the Americans ahead, or the Chinese behind. No, each of us has the opportunity to be on the cutting edge of where we live. No one else can do that. It’s up to us to understand that opportunity.

In the current trying times when the COVID- 19 pandemic is at peak and air conditioning has become redundant due to being a carrier of the virus, the structures that Correa designed became the need of the hour. He was an architect who instead of blindly imitating others, created buildings that are going to stay relevant in the decades to come. Surfaces Reporters pays our respects to the Master Architect, Philanthropists, someone who was always ahead of his time.??

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