With a month left of the exhibition, the book featuring material from Charles Correa’s archive at the RIBA will become a small memento of a very busy season…
“Charles Correa is an Indian and international architect who, in a lifetime of achievement, has created work which is consistently beautiful, human and enduring.”
Charles Correa: India’s Greatest Architect, 2013, p.5
Often images and objects from the RIBA’s collections at the British Architectural Library make an appearance in films, adverts, books and magazines, but occasionally they get a starring role. Published to accompany the RIBA’s India season and Charles Correa exhibition, the shelves of the Library now includes the book Charles Correa: India’s Greatest Architect which is closely linked to the Library itself. Written by several contributors, including Irena Murray, former Director of the British Architectural Library, the book uses many drawings from the archive of Charles Correa, which was recently donated to the RIBA.
The book looks at twenty-two prominent projects from Correa’s prolific career, one of which is Navi Mumbai.
Navi Mumbai stands as one of the Correa’s greatest achievements. Correa’s work and concern with urbanism comes through in the many drawings detailing how people use streets and, in the case of Mumbai, how people live and move across the city. Exactly a hundred years ago on 1 August 1913, the weekly journal the Builder (p.120) published an article with the title ‘Proposed extension of Bombay City’, where it reported on a idea to reclaim from the sea 1,145 acres on the west and 124 acres on the east coast. It was just one of many proposals. Mumbai has grown over the centuries through land reclamation, but it could not continue for practical and environmental reasons. Navi Mumbai was to extend the city beyond the old city’s narrow island site, across the harbour to the mainland in the east; a bold solution to provide new homes and to relieve some of the pressure for land on the island.
The publication is a glimpse into the long and fruitful career of a great architect who deserves to be better known outside of his homeland. From Correa’s work we can begin to understand how cities can be planned and how to build for people and the way they live – lessons we need learn now more than ever.