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It’s what you go in search of…

On Saturday, 20th June 2015, the Chennai Architecture Foundation organized an in memoriam gathering for Charles Correa. The venue was the atrium space of the MRF Corporate Office on Greams Road in Chennai designed by Correa himself; a building that remains in the top spot of my list of favourite post-independence buildings in Chennai.

The evening began with a solemn introduction by Pramod Balakrishnan, followed by very brief notes from Durganand Balsavar and the MRF Chairman, Vinoo Mammen. It was evident that words were hard to come by not just out of grief but also out of deep respect for the man we had lost. This was followed by a screening of a lecture given by Charles Correa in 2013 in Mumbai at the Jnanapravaha titled ‘My Work, My Thoughts’. Once again, apart from his hallmark charisma and wit, the gathering was engulfed by Correa’s genius, profundity and clarity of thought… while he made it all seem so effortless… like it was common sense. When the video ended, it was hard not to be moved to tears.

The evening concluded with members of the audience sharing their thoughts and memorable anecdotes of their encounters with the man. Biju Kuriakose summed it up best when he called attention to Correa’s role as a teacher… a teacher who was able to presage the way our cities would grow and therefore proactively demonstrate how we ought to design and build our cities… a teacher who dealt uncompromisingly with social issues in all his works… and a teacher we never listened to.

We have lost this teacher, this Buddha. Indeed, the gravity of the loss is much deeper than one can imagine.


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About Vidhya Mohankumar

Vidhya Mohankumar is an architect and urban designer with over a decade of work experience in India, Ireland and the United States and a passion for creating livable and sustainable cities. She is the founder of Urban Design Collective (UDC), a non-profit organization that works as a collaborative platform to create better cities through community engagement. Vidhya also advocates sustainable development through training and capacity building programmes for various stakeholder groups and also within academia through her association with a number of universities as guest faculty. In other parallel albeit real universes, she is a wishful artist, an avid wanderer, a constant gardener and a newly enthused cook.

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