The Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium, located in the heart of Ahmedabad was designed in the 1960s, by world-renowned architect Charles Correa along with the award-winning structural designer, Mahendra Raj. The Stadium is a part of the narrative of Ahmedabad’s modernity, a phase that extended from the mid-’50s to the early ‘90s. The buildings of this period represent the progressive ideals and experimental spirit that characterized India’s post-independence period. It is also a part of a larger constellation of structures built in Ahmedabad by architects who were responsible for creating a new architectural vocabulary for the independent nation. The city of Ahmedabad offered patronage that modern architecture had not experienced before. The cotton mill owners who were the patrons, were representative of a new India. These families saw the necessity of combining modernity and tradition to compete in the world market, which was truly global thinking at the time.
As per the news published in Ahmedabad Mirror, the stadium displays evident signs of wear and tear, including cracked seating areas and gates, as well as exposed and rusting iron elements that pose safety risks. A senior official from the AMC remarked, ‘It is unsuitable even for hosting cultural events. So, It worth noting that the stadium lacks heritage status, making its replacement a more viable option.’
But it is unclear, if any expert advice was sought to conserve the iconic building.
The World Monuments Fund says the stadium “represents the progressive ideals and experimental spirit that characterised India’s post-independence period”. In 2020, it was listed as one of 13 significant twentieth-century buildings in the world.
By The Wire Staff
New Delhi: The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) is planning to demolish the city’s Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel (SVP) Stadium, the Ahmedabad Mirror has reported, quoting an unnamed senior leader of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.
“We will find out the facts and figures behind it. From my understanding, the Kala Academy main building is separate from the main structure. It was a fabricated structure and only the area above the stage has collapsed.”
“We will understand the cause behind this and only after the PWD finds out the reason behind the collapse, will I be able to comment as the chairman of Kala Academy and as art and culture minister,” said Gaude Prior to the renovation works being sanctioned, Gaude had pointed out the structure’s fragility — as well as that of the ‘Black Box’ beneath it — as the reason behind the upgradation works.
The opposition members relented only after the chief minister assured them that the inquiry reports would be tabled in the House before the sessions ends, and the issue discussed then. “The inquiry reports will be placed in the House within 18 days. The day the reports are presented in the House, there will be a discussion on the issue,” Sawant said during Zero Hour.
The Charles Correa Foundation issues the following statement regarding Kala Academy, Panaji dated 17 July, 2023: We are alarmed but not surprised to hear that part of the Kala Academy amphitheatre has collapsed. The PWD and the Government have prevented us from inspecting the site right through the entire process, and we cannot comment on the work done.
Mumbai: Two short films from Mumbai won a Nagari 2022 short film competition organised by the Charles Correa foundation (CCF). The Nagari short film competition is an annual competition designed to guide and develop films that focus on urban issues specific to Indian cities.
The Charles Correa Foundation, which organised the competition, is an initiative of internationally renowned architect and urban planner Charles Correa. After receiving an initial plan, film-makers whose ideas are shortlisted are allotted a mentor to guide them through the whole documentary process.
The two films from Mumbai that won awards are ‘Pipe Dream’ and ‘The Chaviwallahs of Mumbai’. The first won a Special Jury Award and the second a Jury Commendation award. Both films focus on the struggles around getting a water connection in a city like Mumbai.
Goa loves its fair share of drama. The latest potboiler hitting the theatres near you is the new film: “Govind Gaude ko gussa kyon aata hai?”
For the uninitiated, the Kala Academy, the iconic masterpiece created by Charles Correa, is up for renovation. (Thankfully no bulldozers, the weapon of choice for BJP-style renovation!)
Govind, the art and culture minister, says this renovation was long overdue as there were inherent structural flaws in the building which, built at sea level, let water from the River (now sewage) Mandovi seep into the auditorium and corrode it.
On the flip side, the Charles Correa Foundation (CCF), comprising renowned architects and planners and captains of industry, believes that the government of the day cannot distinguish between restoration and renovation.
And KA needs restoration: a gentle, time-consuming, exceedingly intricate and complex procedure.
When pressed by reporters about CCF’s concerns in the Kala Academy’s renovation, the Art and Culture Minister retorted “Who is CCF”. An editorial in the Herald response to these statements, read the whole article below.
The Charles Correa Foundation (CCF) organised a discussion with citizens and the press conference on 14 May 2022 in which Nondita Correa Mehrotra (Director), Arminio Ribeiro (Trustee) and Tahir Noronha (Convener) addressed concerns over the Kala Academy renovation.
CCF pointed out that over the last 40 years Kala Academy has had many problems and that there has never been appropriate repair of the building. All past renovations ignored the structural issues and focussed on cosmetics – painting the building and disguising the damage. CCF is hopeful that this repair will be holistic and comprehensive as a significant amount of public funds is being spent on it. CCF gave the example of waterproofing, which was unscientifically applied twice in 1996 and 2004, without removing the previous layers. Such treatment has led to severe overloading of the structure and accordingly many of the structural problems that were reported in 2019 were from this primary issue. The methodology for structural repair proposed in the contractor’s report is satisfactory. These repairs concluded in April 2022. Now architecture work of finishes, installation of equipment, etc., will commence. However, given the lack of transparency and information we have gleaned from various inside sources, there are several concerns over the interior renovation and the auditorium design.
CCF recalled the wording of the Hon. High Court, that “no portion of Kala Academy will be demolished but only repaired to preserve and up-keep the same”. This means that the project is one of repair and renovation and must follow the three principles of conservation:
PRESERVATION of what is irreparable and needs to be preserved as is. (eg. Mario Miranda’s artwork in the auditorium is one of the only 7 murals that he has done all around the world).
REPAIR for what has been damaged and bringing it back to its original quality. (eg. The removal of the waterproofing layers in the Amphitheatre).
UPGRADATION if there is a justified technical need. (eg. The AC systems of the auditorium in Kala Academy have been outdated and in a very bad condition hence it would be a justified need to bring in new systems).
Various sources have informed CCF that changes are being made in the finishes of the building. These architectural changes are unjustified. When the building was built, the materials and painting of the murals were designed so that the building was clearly in the public realm, the citizen’s space, with simple flooring and a bright, airy feel as one walked from Campal down to the river. Informants have indicated that flooring will change from the original Shahbad and white China mosaic to darker stones and flowered patterned tiles which will make the lobby spaces dark, dingy and uninviting, and change one of the key appeals of Kala Academy.
The acoustics of the indoor auditorium was originally designed by Bolt Beranek and Newman — the finest in the field, whose portfolio included symphony halls and parliaments, from San Francisco to Tel Aviv to Melbourne. Their consultancy was pro bono on Correa’s request. Robert Newman realised the reverberation time required to best appreciate Western classical music and Indian classical music was different, so the Deenanath Mangeshkar Auditorium was designed to be acoustically live, with small adjustments to the reflective curtains and balconies that could be opened and closed to create a flexible acoustic experience for live performances and film.
Under the umbrella of up-gradation in 2004, the acoustics were tampered with (when Kala Academy was renovated at a cost of ₹24 crores in 4 months for the International Film Festival of India), the ceiling was replaced with flat panels, and the curtains in the balcony removed. Charles Correa raised concerns at that time, but he was ignored by the State Government. Sources inform us that a new acoustic design has been proposed and artist Mario Miranda’s murals may not be spared. Such major changes threaten to erase the design essence of Kala Academy.
In architectural conservation projects, especially the renovation of 20th century buildings, the norm is to consult the original designer, to understand the different layers of the project and have access to archival drawings. For example, recently CCF was an integral part of a consortium of architects and engineers developing a management plan for the renovation of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium in Ahmedabad, a concrete structure designed by Charles Correa and Mahendra Raj in the 1960s. CCF was brought on board to share records, opinion and ensure that the proposals are in tune with the original design. Here Goa is losing out on an opportunity to retain a building which has been internationally respected and acclaimed.
After CCF received information from within the Kala Academy and PWD, they called a press conference on 14 May 2022, and stated that the State Government must be transparent and inform the Public of the restoration and the changes being made to the architectural finishes. It is the Public that must be informed, as the work is being done using Public funds. This could very well be the last opportunity to understand the extent of restoration, question it and do it correctly before it is all lost.
MoMA explores an era of sweeping change, when South Asian architects — pioneering women, among them — redefined the postcolonial era and helped construct new nation states. By Michael Kimmelman
Back in the 1950s, the architect Minnette de Silva pioneered a new version of the modern house in Ceylon. She floated living quarters above gardens on slender concrete pilotis. She conjured up airy interiors of fluid space for family gatherings and Buddhist ceremonies, the rooms circulating around a sweeping staircase, the building made with homegrown timbers like jak and halmilla.
De Silva’s design responded sensibly to Ceylon’s tropical climate and treated European modernism as another tool in a toolbox already stocked with local traditions, materials and techniques. Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, had lately declared its independence. De Silva gave Ceylonese autonomy a new architecture.
During the early 1970s, the Pakistani architect Yasmeen Lari was experimenting with a different idea for housing. Anguri Bagh was a masonry development of shaded streets, sun-bleached courtyards and two- and three-story homes, constructed by mostly unskilled laborers using community-sourced bricks. Lari hoped the project could become a template for housing large masses of people. Its layout took inspiration from the Greek architect Constantinos Doxiadis’s plans from the 1960s for Islamabad, the new capital of Pakistan, but also from the old walled cities of Multan and Lahore.
In modern Pakistan, Lari believed, housing should adhere “to the measure of people’s songs, weaving the pattern of a village as if on the village looms.”
An interview with architect Robert Stephens whose new book, ‘Bombay Imagined’, recalls projects that were never realised.
What might one learn about a city through its unrealised projects? This question animates architect Robert Stephens’ book, Bombay Imagined, which traces 200 proposals from the city’s colonial origins through to the present day.
In the book are a range of designs from practical issues of sewerage to prescient speculations about the city’s relationship with the elements. It talks about, among other projects, a 400-acre park envisioned by municipal commissioner Arthur Crawford at Mahalakshmi, an underwater cable wall at Back Bay, and an airport at Gorai.
In addition to projects imagined by Indian architects, engineers and designers, Stephens uncovered a striking number of proposals from international experts like American transport planner Wilbur Smith and British designer Thomas Heatherwick. A closer reading of these projects reveals Mumbai’s place in the world and how it invited global contributions towards its development.
It helps that this combination of Indian and international involvement in imagining the city is augmented in the book with wonderful artworks. Where Stephens was unable to find drawings, maps or other material to accompany the text, he commissioned graphic artists to work on visuals that bring a range of unrealised projects to life.
February 20, 2022-July 2, 2022 Venue: MoMA, New York
South Asia holds a unique place among the many regions of the world in which modern architecture has been understood as a tool for social progress. The traumatic and violent Partition of 1947, which divided British India into two dominions, also signaled the beginning of an ambitious process of nation-building across the subcontinent. In each of the newly independent countries of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh (formerly East Pakistan), as well as Sri Lanka (formerly the British Crown Colony of Ceylon), modern architecture became an active agent in asserting participation in progressive global politics, forging a common regional identity, and breaking with the colonial past.