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Tribute to India's Greatest Architect Charles Correa

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Dr. N. Subramanian
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 18, 2015 7:08 pm    Post subject: Tribute to India's Greatest Architect Charles Correa Reply with quote

India’s ‘Greatest Architect,’ Charles Correa, Dies

Ar. Charles Correa [1st Sept. 1930-16th June 2015]


Mr. Correa was born on 1 September 1930, in the southern Indian city of Secunderabad, Andhra Pradesh. He studied at St. Xavier's College in Mumbai and went on to earn degrees in architecture from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor (1949–53) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT),  in Cambridge, Massachusetts (1953–55) both in  U.S.A. - where he became heavily influenced by modernist great Le Corbusier — Correa is driven by a philosophical mantra to improve what exists already. “Discovery. This is the essence of architecture and in that sense, invention,” he said in an interview in London.

Architectural Practice

Toy train catalogues in childhood and an encounter with an architectural journal at age 15 lead up to his career choice later in life.

In 1958 he established his own Mumbai-based professional practice. His works, since the 1960s, have been ahead of their time and his ability to bridge traditional Indian materials and design with every component of modernity is unrivalled.

Charles played a defining role in developing architecture of post-Independence India and has designed some of the most outstanding structures. He was the man behind the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial in Ahmedabad and Madhya Pradesh Assembly building.

“To work in India is the great advantage of life in the Third World. The issues are so much bigger than you are; they give you a chance to grow,” Mr. Correa wrote in his book ‘Housing and Urbanization.’

Gandhi Samarak Sanghralaya

One of Mr. Correa's first projects was the 'Gandhi Samarak Sanghralaya,' a memorial museum and research center at the Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, in 1958. The building's design includes areas that provide what the architect calls 'visual quiet.'

The Jawahar Kala Kendra (Jawahar Arts Centre),Jaipur, Rajasthan (1986–1992)
The Jawahar Kala Kendra, a multi arts centre located in Jaipur in India, designed by Correa in 1986 adapts and applies concepts from ancient architectural principles called the Vastu Vidya. he plan is inspired by the original city plan of Jaipur, consisting of nine squares with central square left open.

A mural at the Jawahar Kala Kendra

Architect of Navi Mumbai

From 1970–75, he was Chief Architect for New Bombay (Navi Mumbai), the new city of 2 million people that came up across the harbour from the existing city of Mumbai. Here, along with Shirish Patel and Pravina Mehta he was involved in extensive urban planning of the new city. The low-rise but high-density Belapur Housing project in Navi Mumbai “allows families with varying incomes to live in urban housing while carefully preserving human scale and comfort”.

Correa is also known for pioneering work on low-income housing. In 1985, Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi appointed him as the  first chairman of the National Commission on Urbanisation.

a group of houses with a shared courtyard at the Belapur Housing project in Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra

Housing Projects
He has also been involved in multiple large-scale housing projects, ranging from luxury condominiums to housing for the poor. His love for unobstructed spaces seeped into a lot of his projects, like the luxury Kanchanjunga Apartments built over more than a decade in the 1970s and 80s in Mumbai where he incorporated the concept of “open-to-sky” spaces. He said that being able to see the sky from inside a building “can make a difference between livable habitat and claustrophobia.”

Kanchanjunga Apartment Towers, Mumbai

The building is a 32 story reinforced concrete structure with 6.3m cantilevered open terraces. The central core is composed of lifts and provides the main structural element for resisting lateral loads. The central core was constructed ahead of the main structure by slip method of construction. This technique was used for the first time in India for a multistory building.

The concrete construction and large areas of white panels bears a strong resemblance to modern apartment buildings in the West, perhaps due to Correa's western education. However, the garden terraces of the Kanchanjunga Apartments are actually a modern interpretation of a feature of the traditional Indian bungalow: the veranda.
The Belapur housing project in Navi Mumbai

Other Projects
Some of his other projects include the British Council headquarters Delhi, (1987–92) and the National Crafts Museum in New Delhi (1975–1990), Bharat Bhavan, Bhopal (1982),  the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT, Boston (2000–2005), City Centre (Salt Lake City, Kolkata) in Kolkata (2004), and the Champalimaud Centre for The Unknown in Lisbon, Portugal (2007–2010).

Champalimaud Centre for The Unknown in Lisbon, Portugal (2007–2010).

LIC building, at Connaught Place, New Delhi, designed by Charles Correa, 1986

Also he designed state-of-the-art research and development facility of Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd (Mahindra Research Valley)at Chennai, which is the epicentre of various R&D networks of Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd.

He is keen to go into intricate detail about any number of his buildings, rationalising and describing them in very human terms. The Bharat Bhavan, a multi-arts complex and museum that opened in Bhopal in 1982, for instance, “doesn’t intimidate anyone. It’s for the whole family, more natural than swanky”.

Mr. Correa often felt his architecture should have a metaphorical meaning. In his designs for the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics in Pune, he aimed to portray 20th-Century scientific theories about the expansion of the universe. Its courtyard includes a design of the Sierpinksi Triangle, a pattern named after a Polish mathematician.  The interior of the IUCAA,  took almost five years to complete.

One of Correa's most important later projects is the new Ismaili Centre in Toronto, Canada that is be located in the midst of formal gardens and surrounded by a large park designed by landscape architect Vladimir Djurovic. It shares the site with the Aga Khan Museum designed by Fumihiko Maki.

Charles Correa died at his residence at Mumbai after a brief illness in the age of 84 on June 16, 2015.


Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India, has paid tribute to the architect on Twitter: "Mr Charles Correa's architectural marvels are widely cherished, reflecting his brilliance, innovative zeal and wonderful aesthetic sense," he said.

Numerous architects and industry professionals have also paid their respects. British Council director Vicky Richardson described the news as "terribly sad", adding that Correa's Delhi building for the organisation is "wonderful".

He was awarded the Padma Shri in 1972, and second highest civilian honour, the Padma Vibhushan in 2006, given by Government of India.
He was awarded the 1984 Royal Gold Medal for architecture, by the Royal Institute of British Architects.

Other Awards include:
The International Union of Architects UIA Gold Medal 1990
Praemium Imperiale (1994)
7th Aga Khan Award for Architecture for Madhya Pradesh Legislative Assembly (1998)
Austrian Decoration for Science and Art (2005)

On 18 December 2011, the eve of the Golden Jubiliee of Liberation of Goa, Charles Correa was bestowed with Goa's highest civilian honour, the Gomant Vibhushan.
In 2013, the Royal Institute of British Architects held an retrospective exhibition, "Charles Correa – India's Greatest Architect", about the influences his work on modern urban Indian architecture.
His acclaimed design for McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT was dedicated recently.

A Place in the Shade: The New Landscape & Other Essays,  Charles Correa, Penguin India [ Hatje Cantz], 2012, 246 pp.
Housing and Urbanization: Building Solutions for People and Cities, Charles Correa,Thames & Hudson, 2000, 144 pp.
The Work of Charles Correa, Charles Correa and Kenneth Frampton, Thames and Hudson, 1996, 271 pp.
Charles Correa: India's Greatest Architect, Irena Murray (Ed.), RIBA Publishing , 2013, 72 pp.


  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Correa
  • http://www.thehindu.com/features/homes-and-gardens/design/making-dreams-real-a-tribute-to-architect-charles-correas-life/article7342822.ece?utm_source=Vuuklemail&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=Newsletter
  • http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2013/may/12/charles-correa-india-greatest-architect
  • http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/a-master-architect/article7328474.ece
  • http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/charles-correa-the-man-who-swore-never-to-design-a-glass-building/article7326996.ece
  • http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/charles-correas-works-stand-tall/article7325230.ece#im-image-0
  • http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/charles-correas-chennai-connection/article7327499.ece
  • http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Thiruvananthapuram/charles-correa-a-master-architect-and-urban-planner/article7328473.ece
  • http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/for-charles-correa-a-city-was-much-more-than-brick-and-stone/article7326755.ece

Photos are from different sources such as Wikipedia, and RIBA

Last edited by Dr. N. Subramanian on Tue Jun 23, 2015 11:54 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 20, 2015 4:36 am    Post subject: Thanks for this posting on Architect, " Charles Correa Reply with quote

Dear Dr.  Subramanian,
Many thanks for such a detail posting of different Great Projects of  
India’s ‘Greatest Architect,’ Charles Correa ".  After my graduation with M.S. (Struct) from University Of Wisconsin , Madison in 1969 the one reason to return to India and work in India , would have been an opportunity to work for him.  But I stayed in U.S. A. .  


Vasudeo Pandya  P.E. ; S.E.
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