5 April 2021
The Charles Correa Foundation (CCF) has not been consulted or involved in the work being done at Kala Academy, which is commencing on Monday, April 5, 2021.
From June 2019 when CCF first learnt that the Government was considering demolishing the building, CCF recommended that structural repair and waterproofing be done, especially to the amphitheatre, and had asked faculty from IIT Madras, structural engineers who are experts in restoring reinforced concrete, to inspect Kala Academy. This review was done at CCF’s expense, with the hope that in the public interest, the building would be restored and well looked after. It was determined that this repair work would cost a fraction of what now has been announced as the budget ₹50 crores. Therefore, it would be in the public interest to know what additional work is being proposed? What exactly is being done to the building that is going to cost ₹50 crores?
In the many discussions and debates over the last two years, it was clearly established that the people of Goa appreciated the design, spaciousness of the public spaces and their easy access, making it an important cultural artifact for the city. Its open design welcomed everyone to walk through the lobby, to attend events at the theatres, and even access the Mandovi riverfront. The design of a building is not just about the façade, it is the entire building. If you are going to change the lobby, the auditoriums, the practice spaces and terraces, you are changing the DNA of the building. Do the people of Goa want the building to be altered and transformed? The Kala Academy is an important building, an exemplary modern public building, and one of the first contemporary post-Liberation buildings in Goa. If additional auditoriums are required, could they be built as an annex, so that the integrity of this unique design is not destroyed?
Panaji and Goa have only one public building designed by Correa, and shouldn’t it be kept exactly the way he designed it? Correa was given the Gomant Vibhushan, Goa’s highest honour in 2011, but what is the value of this recognition if the State is ready to compromise the integrity of his architecture?