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Architects pay tribute to Charles Correa

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Tributes have poured in for ‘hugely significant architect’ Charles Correa who died yesterday, aged 84

David Adjaye, founder, Adjaye Associates
‘I am so sad to hear of Charles Correa’s passing, but also feel honoured to have had the opportunity to meet him, engage with his work, be welcomed into his home and most recently to design his show at the RIBA and spend time with him in London.

‘For over half a century, Charles managed to create buildings with a universal quality, distilling life’s most complex elements into exciting, modern forms that seemed to grow organically from their geography, climate and culture while also offering a sense of poetry and a metaphysical dimension. While we have lost a great man and an amazing person, his work will continue to inspire and to thrill for many generations to come.’

RIBA president Stephen Hodder
‘Charles is a hugely significant architect around the world, and in India where he played a pivotal role in post-war urbanism. Charles designed some of the most outstanding cultural and civic monuments, science institutes, schools, housing developments and new cities based on a profound understanding of his country’s history, needs and aspirations. He was deserving of the title, India’s Greatest Architect.

‘I am delighted that during his lifetime, RIBA was able to honour Charles and his extraordinary contribution. We presented him with the Royal Gold Medal in 1984. In 2013, he joined us at RIBA in London for the first major UK exhibition showcasing his work, at which time he generously donated some of his archive to the RIBA collections.

‘His work has provided inspiration for generations of architects and will continue to do so.’

Former RIBA president Angela Brady
‘Correa was a brilliant architect who created thoughtful spaces and places for people using his skills of designing for people.

‘My favourite of his building is in Portugal, the hospice ‘Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown’ for cancer patients who could sit in the internal courtyards with their family while having treatment’

‘So beautifully crafted. He showed a group of us around it last year at the Aga Khan Awards for Architecture. Charles was also patron of the newly formed RIBA India chapter which I instigated which we launched in Jan 2015. His exhibition at RIBA in 2013 was magnificent and the fact that he donated his life works to the RIBA collection is a testament to his generosity now there for all of us to enjoy in the years to come.’

Lucy Mori, business development manager, Edward Williams Architects
‘I did my year out in Charles Correa’s office 1988.  I had wanted to travel and experience India not as a tourist but by living and working there.  It was unforgettable.  Both intimate and inspiring.  I was the only foreigner, but not the only student.

‘I worked in both the Bombay and Bangalore offices.  The practice was small – we were about 15 people in Bombay and no more than 5 in Bangalore where the office was located inside Charles’ private house.  This was a simple courtyard dwelling with openings in white painted walls, no doors, red concrete floor, traditional and contemporary art works on the wall.  In the late 80s Bangalore was beginning to grow and Charles had identified opportunities for master-planning new areas of the city – but it felt like we were in the middle of nowhere.  The Bombay office, by contrast, was in a city-centre crumbling office block where I was blasted by A/C and taken out in a vespa and side car to experience the city.  I loved it.

‘Charles was frequently away in Europe and the US: the life of an architectural superstar giving lectures and attending awards ceremonies.  His influence on design was maintained by telex, fax and erratic phone; everyone deferred to him, in an old-fashioned courteous way; never any raised voices; always quiet.  I worked on the Institute of Astrophysics in Pune – making a block model out of polystyrene; hand-drawing floor plans in pencil for residential developments; elevation studies for the Indian Permanent Mission to the UN in New York; LIC headquarters building in Mauritius; the British Council in New Delhi.  The designs were inspired by Indian culture and responded to the hot humid Indian climate: simple geometric forms which created dynamic patterns of light and shade; airy structures without doors and windows which allowed natural ventilation; robust materials and the strong earth tones which looked equally good in the baking sun or when drenched by the monsoon.

‘I travelled every weekend and holiday and managed to visit Charles Correa’s seminal buildings: the Ghandi Ashram in Ahmedabad, the Handloom Pavillion in New Delhi, the Bhavat Bhavan in Bhopal and the Jawahar Kala Kendra in Jaipur; always regretted not being able to get a room at Cidade de Goa.

‘I owed my internship not to my University (Charles had been visiting Professor at Cambridge in 1985-6) but to the father of a college friend who happened to be RIBA Secretary Patrick Harrison.  Charles Correa had been honoured with a gold medal by the RIBA in 1984.  His gift of drawings to the RIBA Library is wonderful.

‘Charles Correa’s unexpected death has brought all my vivid memories back.’

Oluremi Ajose-Adeogun of DKR Associates, Nigeria via linkedin
‘Great modernist and devoted Le Corbusier disciple, Adieu!’

Previous story (AJ 17.06.15)

Obituary: Charles Correa (1930 – 2015)

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