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(b. Hyderabad, India 1930)

Charles Correa was born in Hyderabad, India in 1930. He studied at the University of Michigan and Massachusetts Institute of Technology after which he established a private practice in Bombay in 1958.

Correa's work in India shows a careful development, understanding and adaptation of Modernism to a non-western culture. Correa's early works attempt to explore a local vernacular within a modern environment. Correa's land-use planning and community projects continually try to go beyond typical solutions to third world problems.

During the 1970s and 1980s Correa has worked on larger projects for which he used a fuller semiotic approach. An international lecturer and traveler, he was awarded the RIBA Royal Gold Medal in 1984, the Aalto Medal, and the UIA Gold Medal in 1990.

"When I started as an architect in Bombay, I was not all that confident. It was just that my compulsion to create was greater than my fear of failure," says Charles Correa, the man who in the course of his career has been proffered almost every laurel that an architect could desire, including the Royal Gold Medal of Architecture, the Chicago Architecture Award, the Padma Shri and the Praemium Imperiale.

Correa, 64, born into a middle-class Catholic family in Bombay, became fascinated with the principles of design as a child. He went to the US, where he did his Bachelors at the University of Michigan and his Doctorate at MIT before returning to India in the mid-'50s. He rose to prominence with the Gandhi Smarak Sanghralaya, which he designed in 1958 in Ahmedabad. "The India of those days was a different place," he recollects. "India was a brand-new country. There was so much hope. India stimulated me."

Correa threw himself into a variety of projects like low-cost housing. In the 1970s he worked on a proposal for a twin city across the harbour. New Bombay was planned not as a suburb, but as an independent township. But the relocation of government offices that Correa felt was necessary if New Bombay was ever to be a viable proposition never took place. And Correa watches sadly as Vashi swells into a soulless suburb, home to many harried commuters.

Correa has worked on several interesting projects, including the Titan township in Bangalore and the Madhya Pradesh Assembly in Bhopal.

In the course of his projects, a fair amount of negative feedback has gone Correa's way. Bombay's Kanchenjunga, the residential high-rise with verandahs and gardens scooped out of its side and Salvacao Church, an arrangement of giant concrete shells, have been strongly criticised. "I take criticism on the chin," admits Correa. "It knocks me out but it makes me stop and think."

While Correa is always receptive to feedback, he has never compromised or changed designs he really believes in. "I listen very carefully. But I would rather lose the client than make changes I don't believe in,"

India's first man of architecture has a very simple philosophy: "Unless you believe in what you do, it becomes so boring," he says. There is little doubt that Correa believes in what he does. When he talks about his work, the words tumble out at top speed, the enthusiasm is palpable. Which makes him what he is - innovative, dynamic, architect par excellence.


Architect, planner, activist and theoretician, Charles Correa has emerged as a major figure in contemporary architecture world wide. He studied architecture at the University of Michigan and at MIT. In private practice in Bombay since 1958, his work covers a wide range, from the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial at the Sabarmati Ashram, to the Jawahar Kala Kendra in Jaipur, and the State Assembly for Madhya Pradesh - as well as townships and housings projects in Delhi, Bombay, Ahmedabad and other cities in India.

Over the last four decades, Correa has done pioneering work in urban issues and low cost shelter in the Third World. From 1970-75, he was Chief Architect for ‘New Bombay’ an urban growth centre of 2 million people, across the harbour from the existing city. In 1985, Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi appointed him Chairman of the National Commission on Urbanisation.

His work has been published in many architectural journals and books, including the 1987 Mimar and the 1996 Thames & Hudson monographs devoted to his work. He has taught at universities both in India and abroad, including Harvard, The University of Pennsylvania, Tulane and Washington Universities, and has been the Sir Banister Fletcher Professor at the University of London, the Albert Bemis Professor at MIT, and the Jawaharlal Nehru Professor at Cambridge.

In 1980 Correa was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Michigan, and in 1984 he received the Gold Medal of the Royal Institute of British Architects. In 1987 the Gold Medal of the Indian Institute of Architects, in 1990 the Gold Medal of the UIA (International Union of Architects), and in 1994 the Premium Imperiale from Japan.

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