Correa’s voice is weak and broken but he is the Wagner of architecture and the thunder his words leave in their wake is unmistakable.
... And he indelibly impacts hundreds in the auditorium when he says, “A city without shared public spaces is a city without culture, without history.”
He is too witty to sound like a prophet of doom but there is an urgent warning in his voice when he says, “When you retreat in gated communities, you shut yourself in the walls of brutal anonymity. You fragment the sense of community that even the sprawls of slums and chawls have.”
By shutting out communities that are unlike us, we fragment a sense of connection with others.
We fragment our cities, he says and warns that one day Bengaluru too will become like Mumbai.
A city for the very rich and the very poor between whom no connection is possible but confrontation is imminent and inevitable.
Correa was in town along with art/culture historian and museologist Jyotindra Jain to flag off an annual event in the memory of architect Vimal Jain of Architecture Paradigm who passed away in November 2013.
One of the projects planned for the occasion was, ‘Appropriating Urban Space’ - a collaborative workshop to appropriate urban space in the city where possible, using design, art and culture.
The workshop addressed The Visvesvaraya Centre (Life Insurance Corporation headquarters) near Vidhana Soudha, designed by Charles Correa and imagined its potential as an interactive public space.
A film, Into the Unknown, directed by Sankalp Meshram about Correa’s landmark Champalimaud Centre in Lisbon was followed by a rivetting conversation between Correa and Jain both of whom rued the appropriation of art, culture and architecture in India by market forces.
Correa who has won the highest honours of his profession, including the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, the Praemium Imperiale of Japan, and the Gold Medal of the UIA and the RIBA, compared non-contextual architecture in Bengaluru and other cities to museum displays where objects sourced from various geographies, chronologies and historical narratives are displayed meaninglessly.