CHARLES CORREA: “Architecture is its own Reward”

By on December 22, 2014
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CHARLES CORREA: “Architecture is its own Reward”

Acclaimed by critics and peers alike as an architectural genius of line and balance, CHARLES CORREA’s sweeping concepts have thrust him into the limelight as India’s pioneer architect – as well as an international figure in the field of architecture and urban planning. Recently, while relaxing at his waterfront home in Verem, he talked to award-winning journalist Patricia J Pereira-Sethi

Your cache of awards includes the Padma Vibhushan, Goa’s Gomant Vihbushan, Britain’s Royal Gold Medal, the Union of International Architects’ Gold Medal, the Praemium Imperiale of Japan – and the list goes on. Now 
there is talk about you receiving the Bharat Ratna. Isn’t all this attention somewhat overwhelming?
I know absolutely nothing about the Bharat Ratna or where this rumour got started. I do not seek fame or prizes. I never tried to be a success. I just wanted to produce good quality, thoughtful projects which address the problems of a particular city or urban area. 

Architecture for me is its own reward. Architecture is sculpture that human beings can use. It is not an abstraction. Music and literature are portable; they can be transported and reproduced in different places. You can move them from New York to London to Tokyo. A building cannot move, it is rooted in the soil, in a particular climate, in a particular ethos, in a particular economy. It must reflect the aspirations of the people and culture where it is situated. 

The late Norwegian architect and theoretician Christian Norberg-Schulz once put it beautifully: “Place represents that part of Truth that belongs to Architecture.”

As a Goan, where do you see urbanisation and architecture heading in Goa? In 1972, you cautioned against “hideous ribbon development” and the “continuous erosion of our tropical jungle”. Do you believe we have fallen precisely into that trap? How do we alter such a trend?
Market forces are playing the predominant role in India today – and Goa is drowning in the surplus money sloshing around in urban India. There is an infinite amount of money pouring into a limited landscape and this will strangle us. Overbuilding without a solid plan, without an infrastructure to support it, will help us self-destruct over time – if we don’t stand up and be counted. Look at the overwhelming number of vehicles on the narrow roads, look at the traffic jams, the water and electricity problems heaping down on us. We have row upon row of gated communities, destroying the values we once held so dear. When you retreat into your gated communities, you fragment the sense of community that even the sprawls of slums have. You splinter the sense of connection with others. Is this what the new Goa wants to become?

Read the full article in 'Viva Goa' magazine copy.
Viva Goa magazine is now on stands. Available at all major book stalls and supermarkets in Goa.


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