The Charles Correa Foundation had organised a conference in November 2022, that was hosted virtually. The conference addressed the urgency of climate responsive architecture using a format that had presentations and discussions with practising architects.
The four sessions explored the concept of ‘Form Follows Climate’, with speakers discussing ideas and projects centred around the following themes: System Modulations, Material Explorations and Form Responses to climate.
Charles Correa coined the phrase ‘Form Follows Climate’ in the 1970s during the energy crisis and explained his own work through this lens. We see “Form Follows Climate” also as a provocation today – a call to architects and designers to find solutions to sustainable, energy-passive, and energy-active buildings.
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Session 1 – Memorial Lecture
We opened the conference by paying tribute to Charles Correa and his interest in climate appropriate design. He wrote extensively on this subject, especially during the energy crisis of the 1970s, and coined the phrase ‘Form Follows Climate’. We see this as a provocation, a call to architects and designers to find solutions to sustainable, energy-passive and energy-active buildings.
This opening session started with a brief recorded lecture by Correa from the 1970s, followed by Kartik Vora (Ajeenkya DY Patil University) giving the Remembering Charles Correa Lecture: ‘Surface and Symbol.’ We also heard Marc Angelil (AGPS Architecture) present the Charles Correa Memorial Lecture: ‘Pioneering Errors: HVAC + W & S + E & IT’. After the two lectures, Kapil Gupta (Serie Architects) led the discussion and then opened the floor for questions.
Session 2 – System Modulations
This session brought together a collection of buildings from 4 different practices, with systems that are not standard models of practice but instead adapted to create a unique microclimate, through technical innovations and ecologically sound climate control. ‘System Modulations’ presented transformative approaches to energy-passive and energy-active buildings.
The session had presentations by Richard Hassell (WOHA), Valerie Mulvin (McCullough Mulvin Architects), Lina Ghotmeh (Lina Ghotmeh Architecture) , Louisa Hutton and Matthias Sauerbruch (Sauerbruch Hutton); and Mark Mulligan (Wentworth Institute of Technology) the discussant.
Session 3 – Material Explorations
The session on ‘Material Exploration’ looked at issues of sustainable construction materials, frugality of use of materials, and zero carbon materials, and how all these are considered in the design of buildings.
Christopher Lee and Kapil Gupta (Serie Architects), John Ochsendorf (MIT) and Solano Benitez (Jopoi De Arquitectura) presented their work, and Heinrich Wolff (Wolff Architects) the discussant.
Session 4 – Form responses
This final session looked at how the form of the building itself responds to climate, often influenced by the vernacular, though transformed in a more contemporary idiom. Nelson Mota (TU Delft) presented his research on the influence of Portuguese vernacular on the work of Alvaro Siza. Other presentations were by Rahul Mehrotra (RMA Architects), Sean Godsell (Sean Godsell Architects) and Mariam Issoufou Kamara (atelier masōmī), with Dirk van Gameren (TU Delft) leading the discussion.
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Form Follows Climate
Charles Correa coined the phrase ‘Form Follows Climate’ and often said “to build in India is to respond to climate”. The essay was written in the late 1970s in response to the energy crisis that affected much of the Western world. Foreseeing similar grave mishaps for the Third World he advocated for sustainable design and planning practices as means to ward off a bleak future.
Originally published in the Architectural Record, July 1980.