Tributes were paid to legendary Indian architect Charles Correa (1930-2015) at a function in Kolkata on June 18 – the first anniversary of his death.
The event was the first ‘Charles Correa Annual Memorial Lecture’ , organized by the architect-fraternity of Kolkata and the Ambuja Neotia Grou.p
The idea of an annual lecture in his memory is not only to remember his legacy on a specific day but also to engage in activities, research and practice of his values in architecture throughout the year. The lecture was graced by Mr. Correa’s wife, Mrs. Monika Correa, eminent Professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Design – Mr. Rahul Mehrotra, who is also his son-in-law, renowned Paraguayan architect Solano Benitez and Mr. Harshavardhan Neotia, Chairman of Ambuja Neotia.
An architect of international repute, who had designed ionic buildings across the world, Correa had a deep connection with Kolkata through his only work in Eastern India – City Centre Salt Lake, a project by the Ambuja Neotia Group. The master architect had a natural bond with Ambuja Neotia through a shared philosophy of environment-friendly and sustainable architectural development. He designed City Centre in such a way that the mall became an extension of city streets, people and the overall social microcosm. Correa was awarded the Padma Shri in 1972, and the second highest civilian honour, the Padma Vibhushan given by Government of India in 2006. He was also awarded the 1984 Royal Gold Medal for architecture, by the Royal Institute of British Architects.
“Charles Correa’s vision of an eco-friendly and human-centric urbanisation of India is of utmost relevance today. While I initially had a hard time getting him convinced to build a commercial project, eventually I ended up learning many essential values of work from him. He never tolerated mediocrity and in his own assertive style always enriched the person he worked with,” said Mr. Harshavardhan Neotia.
One of the main speaker at the event, Mr. Solano Benitez, who too shares Mr. Correa’s philosophy of life-inspired designs said, “Charles Correa had captured the very essence of architecture – that human beings share their dwelling spaces with the different elements of nature – air, light, animals, forest – and cannot possibly plan their existence by undermining any of these components.” Mr. Benitez recently won the prestigious Golden Lion award in Venice for his work. His unique structures based on low-cost materials such as bricks have earned him world renown and are specifically relevant for developing countries.
Mr. Rahul Mehrotra, Professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, said, “Charles Correa’s legacy for India however, will be that he was the most important figure in the first generation of architects in independent India. His contribution of articulating a clear agenda for architects in India was critical. His ability to theorize the everyday in productive ways for designers and construct a clear idea of Indiawill be his everlasting impact. To take the obscure agendas of modernism and root them in the Indian reality will serve as the foundation for many generations of architects in India. But most importantlyCharles Correa will be seen as an architect whose agenda was about creating relevant and humane architecture and cities and doing this with the greatest integrity in a landscape of mediocrity, hypocrisy and extreme greed. In the future, Correa’s ideas will become even more powerful, relevant and will resonate more broadly in our globalizing world.”
Ambuja Neotia is one of the most prominent and respected corporate houses headquartered in Kolkata with its forte in real estate and recent forays into hospitality, healthcare and education. The company, under the stewardship of Mr. Harshavardhan Neotia has been responsible for landmark projects in and around Kolkatasuch as Udayan, Kolkata’s first Condoville created around the Public Private Partnership model, City Centre, the mall that went on to re-write several retail rules, – PRNewswire