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Correa in 2D: Can we expect more from those he left behind?

June 9, 2016

While reading a post on William Dalrymple’s Delhi farmhouse, I came across this tribute (or whatever) to architect Charles Correa. The first few lines have made me so angry that I had to change my decision to not write about Correa in a hurry:

Ode to Charles Correa, one of India’s most influential architects

Architect Abha Narain Lambah imagined Correa as the embodiment of Howard Roark from The Fountainhead—the bible for every student of architecture


I will come back and update the text, but this is frivoulous writing – and contradicts itself. He was no Roark, another character many architects think they understand and revere, and he personally would disapprove of words like Master Architect, Iconic Architectural Edifice, Reinvention of Indian Modernism, Quintessence, Bold Persona and such being loosely used.

Gandhi Smarak Sangrahalaya, his first building, was in Ahmedabad, the very location where a good chunk of Indian ‘modernism’ was being attempted, without grand support from India’s Prime Minister or the resources of a national capital buoying it. If there is one thing people who have worked with him had to say, it was that he was humble, never angry on site, patiently resolved issues when something went wrong, and behaved professionally unlike some of his contemporaries.

The sense of humour that everyone thought fantastic (it was), came with a tinge of hidden anger at times but many failed to read it. He was a perfectionist, and it is frustrating for a perfectionist to create anything, let alone buildings. His attempts, of making buildings, townships, towns were often compromised by petty politics, and Mumbai and Delhi certainly failed to use his multifaceted (bold?) ideas. And he did see the end of respectful treatment that architects as professionals received when he began, and the advent of the present era where architects themselves are to blame for irreverent treatment they get.

And most influential? Unfortunately, there aren’t really many architects today who acknowledge to be influenced by him in any real sense, and are themselves doing work worth admiring. Abha, Crawford Market has turned out well, knowing the complexity of the project. But this ode, well, is mixed up with Page 3 words, architectural student jargon, superlatives that don’t contribute to the content, and is largely monodimensional.

Glad for someone doing it but I would expect more depth when one writes about Correa.

Note: Architectural Digest too shares the blame. Out of spite for their hunger for viewer traffic, I have reproduced all their keywods as tags, and added some.





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