In the 1970s, architect Charles Correa designed a 90-acre colony in Borivli, commissioned by LIC and paid for by LIC policyholders, which brought down the walls between classes, communities, and in a classic Correa move, the indoors and the outdoors.
Since the time architect Rohan Shivkumar was a kid, he knew that the man who designed the statuesque Kanchanjunga Apartments on Pedder Road also designed his humble abode in Borivli West. "Correa was very, very, very iconic even then," he says, as we talk in the very house.
In the early 1970s, Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) had earmarked 90 acres in Borivli West for a housing project for its policyholders. Like VT/CST, it was called LIC Colony colloquially and Jeevan Bima Nagar officially. MP Gangadharan, 78, who bought a flat in 1975 and "who knows everything there is to know about the colony," recalls, "It was the brainchild of TA Pai, the LIC chairman. If you were an LIC policyholder, you were eligible to buy a flat, and you could take a loan at 10.5 per cent interest. So, the policy premium and loan instalment, you had to pay to LIC. For residents, the flats were somewhat cheaper, the financial policy had a lot of flexibility and there was a trust factor." LIC built about 60 buildings, with a total of 1,900 flats. Surprisingly, it hired the best in the business - and the most public-spirited - Charles Correa.
"There's a famous Marg publication that came out in the early 1960s," cites Shivkumar, who is also dean of research at Kamla Raheja Institute for Architecture. "Correa, architect Pravina Mehta and civil engineer Shirish Patel had made an argument for New Bombay [Navi Mumbai]. Correa was able to think about his practice as something that not only involved the making of aesthetically good buildings, but architecture as a tool for the development of a better society."