Charles Correa is a name that doesn’t need any introduction to Indian architecture and design community. Apart from being a celebrated architect, he was also a great conveyer of ideas – a quality that made everything he created or wrote magnificent and impactful.
His life is well-documented in the media and literature. But there are some things that many people don’t seem to know about him. There can’t be a more fitting way of celebrating his life and legacy than getting to know him a little better.
1. A Gandhian to the heart
The very first claim to fame that Correa had was the design of Gandhi Museum (Mahatma Gandhi Sangrahalaya) in Sabarmati, Gujarat. But that’s not all.
Charles Correa was a true and devoted Gandhian. He made it a point to live simplistically wherever his profession allowed him. In many of featured photographs, he can be seen donning simple khadi apparels. He is also said to have studied the literary works by Mahatma Gandhi. He made regular trips to Sabarmati Ashram for meditation and peace of mind.
2. Standing up for natural elements
A remarkable (now demolished) Tube House in Ahmedabad designed by Correa featuring the famous slanted panel windows (source – www.charlescorrea.net)
Unlike many modernists and post-modernists, Correa always stood up for and actively championed the maximum employment of natural elements in design and architecture. Most of his projects feature highly-evolved slanted window techniques that later became a hallmark of his craft.
3. An agent of urbanisation in India
Navi Mumbai: Dream of an urban India, laid down over forty years ago (source – www.archdaily.com)
Even though he was a man of simple tastes, his projects were hardly limited by his own ideals. Correa was hired in 1970 by the Government of Maharashtra for the planning of Navi Mumbai (New Mumbai), in order to ease up the stress on the infrastructure of Mumbai. His immaculate planning has worked like a charm and today, after four decades, Navi Mumbai is one of the best planned urban provinces in India. As a result of this, he also served as the Chairman of National Urban Planning Commission in the 80’s as a special appointee by the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
4. Working for free for his alma mater
Iconic building of the Institute of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT (source – www.mit.edu)
Charles Correa was one of the earliest Indian graduates of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in post-independence India. He managed to forge many lasting personal and professional relationships at MIT. As a token of gratitude to his alma mater, Correa designed the now iconic building for the Institute of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT – for free!
5. Housing at reduced costs
Belapur: Affordable and simple housing (source – www.charlescorrea.net)
In spite of having planned many internationally renowned projects, the real love that Correa had for residential projects never gave way. He planned an eye-catching Kanchanjunga Apartment Complex in Mumbai as well as simple yet efficient housing at very low costs for lower-income people in Belapur, Maharashtra.