Copyright: RIBA British Architectural Library Photographs Collection (1980s)
The RIBA demonstrated its increasing commitment to internationalism in recommending to Her Majesty the Indian architect as the Gold Medallist in its 150th anniversary year. Charles Correa’s receipt of the Gold Medal is now sadly most associated with the opportunity seized by Prince Charles to berate architects for their production of ‘monstrous carbuncles’, which was a discourtesy both to the man and to architectural history.
Correa was, according to the RIBA Journal’s editor Peter Murray: ‘a master of light and shade, or space and climate as well as an activist with a concern for the underprivileged in the Third World’. He added: ‘It is Correa’s greatest gift that he has been able to communicate in a most striking manner the role of the professional (architect) in the Third World.’
Charles Correa, born in Hyderabad in 1930, was an architect, urban planner, activist and theoretician. He studied architecture at the University of Michigan and at MIT, before establishing a private practice in Bombay in 1958. His work in India shows a careful development, understanding and adaptation of Modernism to a non-western culture. All of his work - from the planning of Navi Mumbai, to the carefully detailed memorial to Mahatma Gandhi in Ahmedabad placed special emphasis on prevailing resources, energy and climate as major determinants in the ordering of space.
Over four decades, Correa undertook pioneering work on urban issues and low cost shelter. 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. A working architect at the age of 78, he has won most of the world's other significant architecture prizes: the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, Japan's Praemium Imperiale and the UIA Gold Medal.
Master of light and shade, of space and climate, as well as an activitst with a concern for the underprivileged in the third world. Also for the Gandhi Darshan Museum (Delhi) and the Kala Art Centre (Goa) are speaking an 'unassuming but thoughful language, enlivened always with touches of characteristic wit'.