KVDF14 Memorial Lecture: Charles Correa

Forum 2014 created a platform for sharing of ideas and thoughts from diverse corners of the world. One was witness to Professor Ishiyama’s elaborations on the translation of Japanese philosophies in architecture; Shirish Beri’s sensitive architectural responses to nature and humane values; Carin Smuts’ thoughtful inputs on user empowerment through the act of building; Emre Arolat’s modern outlooks; Bijoy Ramachandran and Rafiq Azam’s diverse works; William Curtis’ jovial presence and critical contribution in creating relevant discourses throughout the event; and the much awaited Kurula Varkey Memorial lecture by Charles Correa.

The event gave scope for exposure to various cultural backgrounds, in terms of interaction with students and panelists. It opened gates to looking at various styles of working and perceptions. Covering a wide range of topics, right from issues dealing with the city, to institutions and memorial spaces, the discussions related to larger contexts. Informal discussions ensued with the panelists, breaking free the knots of formal tension.

One got thinking about several issues, such as — how does an architectural language evolve? What does this epoch call for? In a time fraught with vicissitudes when ‘survival of the fittest’ is arguably a concern, does one sit back and engage in a pre-analysis mode of pushing the jamb to the tip of scrutiny, or does one get into an unremitting rhythm of production? How does one strike a balance between the two? Where is this leading us – to ‘collectivism’ or ‘individualism’?  How does one bring about a personal connect between user and building? How does architecture begin to celebrate the ideas that have been moulded into built space, in bids to solve larger issues in society, by engaging into the so called ‘social imagination’?

One also questions one’s role as an ‘architect’, as to what lies under the canopies of one’s duties to cater to society, besides providing for one’s clients. Does architecture only suffice the needs of a humankind going through population fission? How can problematizing social issues as a context generate new vocabulary? Building activities today often strengthen the ‘nature versus built’ polarity. Can our designs incorporate solutions that become suggestive of blurring these extremes?

Has the dominance of visual perception overridden the crucial experiential and sensory aspects of space making? So recapitulating the core, what are the means of evolving an architectural language? Perhaps a unification of nature and manmade, design to the detail, and the ability to read, interpret and view history through various lenses, may provide means of formulating grammar and vocabulary for the arrangement of built environments.