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.
On the 26th November 2021, First Secretary Ana Ferrand visited the Charles Correa Foundation. She held a meeting with Mr. Arminio Ribeiro, Managing Trustee, and Mr. Tahir Noronha, Convener, to discuss about their work on urban issues and possible paths for cooperation.
The Nagari Film Competition is an annual competition designed to guide and develop films that focus on urban issues, specific to Indian cities. Nagari intends to be a bioscope for the city, and through this lens, we explore diverse urban conditions and engage with issues. Nagari is unique as it has been conceptualised as a guided exercise, with a panel of Mentors on board to help participants on their journey to creating a film.
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?
Architecture school is a place of experiment and a testing ground for innovative ideas. The academic work and student projects can bring to light the focus of an entire career, shape the backbone for an architectural theory, and crystalize values. How do their studies and formative years reflect on the later work of different architects? Taking a journey along decades, we explore the transition from architecture school to practice, the reverberance of academic explorations and early projects in the work of several architects and practices, highlighting the different pivotal steps that have shaped the beginning of their architectural journey.
Throughout different decades, particular socio-economic environments shaped the opportunities available to young architects. As Natalie de Vries stated: “It’s much harder for young architects starting now because of the current economic conditions. They have to think much more about their business models – we could just dive in and start making things.” Some architects of the last century found themselves in the privileged position of having notable commissions in their early careers, as is the case of Alison and Peter Smithson who were in their twenties when they took up the commission for the Hunstanton School in Norfolk. On the other hand, it took more than a decade since graduation for Zaha Hadid to have one of her designs built. It is hard to tell if contemporary media and the proliferation of the means for disseminating good architecture and innovative projects empower young architects, getting them a step closer to commissions. Nonetheless, the academic preoccupations of architecture students illustrate the ethos of the particular moment and place, underlining distinct approaches to architecture, and it is worth exploring how various architects from different decades have pursued their student architectural interests after graduation.
Charles Correa’s 1955 Master Thesis at MIT strikes as an example of academic interest pursued across an entire career. The project explored the concept of participatory processes at the neighborhood level and put forward a framework for improving urban conditions in a bottom-up approach. This scale and design thinking remained an important part of his life as a practitioner, and a decade later, in 1964, Correa published an alternative plan for Mumbai’s future growth. The vision was accepted by the government in 1970 and became known as Navi Mumbai, with Correa as the chief architect of the new development plan. Throughout his career, Correa was a fervent activist for the improvement of housing and urban life in cities. Moreover, he founded the Charles Correa Foundation, to support architectural, urban design, and community-based projects that improve the human settlements in India.
The Charles Correa Foundation with the support of Mumbai-based ATE Chandra Foundation is organising Nagari, a short film contest themed around adequate housing in urban India.
By Christine Machado | NT BUZZ
According to the Ministry of Housing, Government of India, over 17 per cent of urban India lives in settlements with inadequate amenities and without access to essential services. Over three million urban dwellers are homeless and unable to afford even the most basic housing.
In order to highlight this issue and offer up possible solutions, The Charles Correa Foundation with the support of the Mumbai-based charitable trust ATE Chandra Foundation has conceptualised a short film contest titled ‘Nagari’. Themed around addressing the question ‘How could one tell the story of housing adequacy in urban India?’