The Charles Correa Gold Medal is an award initiated in 1998 by the Indian architect and urbanist Charles Correa. The medal is to recognise quality and talent among young students of architecture who address issues of the urban context where their projects are located.
Over the last few years the award was administered by the Urban Design Research Institute (UDRI), a Trust set up by Correa in Mumbai in 1984. Going forward, however, the Charles Correa Foundation (CCF) will administer the Gold Medal annually. Initially the award was open only to Mumbai and Goa architecture colleges, but this year CCF will invite colleges from across India. A jury of eminent architects involved in practice and academics will review the submissions and identify an outstanding student who will be awarded the Charles Correa Gold Medal.
The first stage of the award starts within the participating schools of architecture. The school will identify one student from among its graduating class and nominate their work for the Gold Medal. The second stage has the Jury review the entries to select an eventual winner of the Gold Medal.
Through the format of the Gold Medal, CCF intends to not only challenge students and schools of architecture to focus on pressing issues, but also to emphasise the role that architects can play in society as “agents of change”. The Jury will look for entries that consider the site and context of the proposed project, and will appreciate entries that are clearly formulated and address real-life issues.
The jury for the Charles Correa Gold Medal 2021 was Dennis Pieprz (Jury Chair & Urban Designer, Sasaki), Gurjit Singh Matharoo (Principal Architect, Matharoo Associates), Shimul Javeri Kadri (Principal Architect, SJK Architects), Nadine Gerdts (Senior Critic, Rhode Island School of Design) and Bijoy Ramachandran (Principal Architect, Hundredhands) where they mainly looked for entries that consider the site and context of the proposed project with clarity in formulation and addressal of real-life issues.
GOLD MEDAL WINNER
The winning project ‘Decoding Cultural Trauma: Case of Girangaon, Mumbai’ uses architecture to address the sensitive issue of cultural and urban trauma, by making it contextual, and working within the existing urban fabric in the Girangaon bazaar in Mumbai. The project attempts to tackle the huge development pressure on the site through a human-centric design intervention. The sections are beautifully drawn, each one describing a different glimpse into the plethora of activities that take place within the built, and unbuilt spaces amidst a varied scheme of programmes, spaces and volumes.
The first honourable mention, ‘Pop Up Structures for Temporal Scenario’ is commendable as it speaks to the smaller towns of India and captures the kinetic city in an innovative way – it blurs the line between product and architecture and addresses a real problem with a unique and novel solution. It looks at a site enroute to the temple at Palani, using it to accommodate pilgrims during the annual Thaipusam festival, and is imagined before and after the festival’s season returning to its agrarian condition. The thesis is sensitive to the mechanics of these kinetic structures and the design of it serves to address three issues: accommodation, healthcare and cultural gathering space, through a common solution to help us in our understanding of the context and functionality.
The second honourable mention, ‘Infrastructure for Artistic Practice’ is exemplary as it looks at urban acupuncture as a potential methodology in an informal and densely packed settlement in Thane city. This thesis takes a participatory approach in the redevelopment of this commune, and each intervention is a strategy to regenerate the existing socio-cultural practices through a catalogue of urban tools and uses local technology and place making as its basis.