Raj Rewal – CIDCO Lowcost Housing, Navi Mumbai

This building project by the City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) by Maharashtra state represents a complex, specifically Indian problem: creating accommodation for people on subsistence incomes. Fundamentally, these are homes that can never be owned by their occupants, because in most cases the people who live there will never succeed in breaking through the income barriers. People usually get stuck within a social stratum that is clearly defined and demarcated without any hope or chance of improvement because of inadequate schooling and professional training. Other factors, too, play a part in the Hindu social system, especially the caste system, a millennia-old structure into which one is born. Over the centuries, a system that ordered and stabilised society into professional classes degenerated into an unworthy class system that despises human beings. Despite the Indian government’s best efforts to break away from it, sometimes using force, and to guarantee better chances of success for those involved, this scourge still remains firmly anchored in people’s consciousness.

Raj Rewal’s practice was commissioned to plan 1000 accommodation units for residents on the edge of a large planning area in New Mumbai, a new area that was being developed at the time east of Mumbai old town. As is the case with all urban development projects, despite a very low budget it was important not just to provide the bare essentials in terms of space, but above all to develop a home environment that was simple but of high quality. The difficult balancing act between finance and ambience could succeed only if inexpensive but lastingly effective building materials were used, and if the planning process was not too costly and led a simple implementation procedure. The Rewal practice designed the project as a high density structure. On the one hand it was because the area available was strictly limited, but also in order to achieve quality for the outdoor space that was effective in urban terms, yet reminiscent of a naturally developed village. These accommodations cells, or “molecules” (Rewal), now consist of one to three room units 18, 25, 40 and 70 m2 large. They have essential sanitary facilities and water tanks on the roof for a constant water supply, which is still by no means to be taken for granted in essentially rural India.

One important problem had to be solved: what reasonably priced and durable materials could make a lasting effect within a very tight financial framework. The final choice was a combination of concrete cavity blocks, exposed plasterwork, hand-made terracotta tiles and locally available rough granite stones for the base. This combination can endure the hard monsoon climate and will develop an acceptable patina. Electricity was also guaranteed for the entire complex, not just in the dwellings themselves, but in the public areas as well. Roads were moved to the periphery to allow for safe but reasonably priced footpath connections within the development. There is access on all sides from the outside, and it is easy for people to filter through the building groups. With the concept of a very dense residential quarter, Rewal accomodated the enormously high level of social interaction in everyday Indian life. People do not just live in their own homes, but are in intensive contact with neighbours, friends and fellow occupants almost throughout the day and night.

Thus opening the homes up to the outdoor space is an important design consideration. Increased urban density is now not usually born of necessity, but an important concept for life in general. When developing urban space the quality of indoor and outdoor space have to go hand in hand, as life takes place to a large extent in the street. So when planning the chain of “molecules”, great emphasis was laid on the connections implied by communally used spaces. In India, a “village” consists of an accumulation of squares, courtyards, loggias, terraces and balconies where people communicate and make the exchanges that are so essential to life. Rewal considers these factors on a large scale and builds these zones into his architecture. He develops a type of building kit system with cubic basic elements. These admit a wide range of highly flexible variation as a design principle and can thus be used almost universally: courtyards turn individual blocks into chains, modules are set very close together, blocks with courtyards are grouped as quarters. This shows a theme being kept consistently and implemented with great virtuosity. Efficiency is not the only key factor, it is important to create a living environment on the basis of a wealth of space. A structure emerges that is completely homogeneous not just as a physical entity, but also in terms of its materials, a design that is all of a piece, and yet at the same time a highly sophisticated residential unit with complex spatial diversity. The fact that the buildings all have different numbers of storeys contributes to this, being staggered from one to four levels, and so does the slope on the site. A sloping site dynamises and extends the space and the physical quality of the buildings and enhances the image of a living organism that seems as though it could be extended at any time. The totality of the planning is expressed in homogeneity, emphasising the holistic design. There is no attempt to duplicate the individual dwellings artificially, no false sense of growth, which gives the architectural approach its complete credibility. Rewal is very consistently demonstrating a concept that has nothing nostalgic about it in terms of overall appearance: reduction was essential, and from this necessity is born an abstract and thus unambiguously modern form, entirely committed to its time.

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Charles Correa – Town Planning in Mumbai and Bagalkot, Mumbai

Planning for New Mumbai Mumbai, formerly Bombay, is the commercial and financial centre of India, with a population of about twelve million at the time of writing. The huge city is growing by many thousand hopeful immigrants from predominantly rural areas each day. Mumbai‘s particular topography – it is a long, narrow peninsula – meant that the constantly needed extension of the city limits was possible in one direction only, northwards. Britain‘s efforts as a colonial power 200 years ago were directed at „citifying“ something that was essentially a withdrawn little town because of its outstanding location as a harbour and trading centre. But Bombay did not start to flourish until 50 years later, when the turmoil of the Civil War cut off American cotton export. So the world focused its interest on Indian cotton, and Bombay became the centre for the shipment of goods. Ultra-fast growth began, the port became the largest in India, and rapid urban expansion created the problem of a housing shortage and a proliferation of emergency accommodation. The centre of Mumbai, now and then, is at the southern end of the peninsula, where commercial life developed and population density and land prices are highest. The extreme expansion of the urban area to one side of a fixed commercial centre created Mumbai‘s major problems of long transport routes. Journeys lasting several hours on express trains had to be accepted if people were to get to work, a state of affairs that eventually reached its natural limits.
As early as 1964, Charles Correa with his colleagues Pravina Mehta and Shiresh Patel proposed to the Mumbai city authorities that they should not expand any further northwards, but use an eastern site cut off by a sea bay for urban expansion, with the aim of establishing New Mumbai. The government did not finally accept this plan until 1970, when it started to buy land east of Mumbai old town. Large bridges then made it possible to create a direct link with the old centre, so that there was now nothing else in the way of the actual goal of a new commercial centre with a new urban structure. The City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) was founded, and Charles Correa headed it as chief architect from 1970 to 1974. Their aim was to settle at least four million people in New Mumbai, thus containing the spread of further emergency accommodation and creating enough new jobs. There were two key aspects to be dealt with: creating living space and setting up mass transport systems. The southern sub-centre called Ulwe, for which Correa produced a development plan, is now part of New Mumbai. The intention was to carry out real town planning here, with the colonial British planning in Old Mumbai definitely providing a model: a development and use plan was drawn up in co-operation with CIDCO, rules were fixed, i.e. the building development structures, building heights and street width etc., and a start made by designing 1000 dwellings for 350,000 inhabitants. Every income group was to be considered here, and cost/use factors devised in categories, for example clay or bamboo buildings for lower income groups, masonry buildings for middle income groups and apartments for high earners. The complexity of a city as an urban organism meant that flexibility had to be a factor as well, with room for natural growth. Urban quality in the sense of an ambience appropriate to human scale meant considering factors like varied living space dependent on urban density, structures like neighbourhoods and quarters, public buildings and areas, also sufficient green areas and open spaces, and transport with adequate stopping points. Correa developed a complex and flexible urban structure for Ulwe, but at the same time laid down strict building guidelines to guard against Indian urban sprawl: urban blocks as the basic structure, with fixed building height, numbers of floors and street and rear façades, and also fixed use dependent on position within the city. An urban centre offered administration, public buildings, green areas and transport links with buses and trains. This ambitious, fixed structure – and thus inimical to the Indian free spirit – has been under construction for several decades.

Planning for New Bagalkot New dams caused the Ghataprabha River in the state of Karnataka to rise and flood parts of the old town in Bagalkot. A new centre, New Bagalkot, was proposed and planned to accommodate 100,000 people. Charles Correa was faced with similar problems as in Ulwe, just on a smaller scale, but even greater flexibility was needed for the building development and the street space. Here what were called „planned-unplanned“ elements had to be factored in, as a great deal was to be left to the people themselves. As natural growth was seen to be desirable, it was important to lay down rough urban development guidelines only. These addressed the size of the quarters, linked routes through the town, the transport systems and stopping points, and not least, the building development structure. Correa prescribed a hierarchical geometrical structure that resembles the diagram of the Mandala, the old Hindu symbol of the cosmos. Indian town planning has been linked to the abstract idea of the cosmos for centuries, an idea that Correa takes up here.
A square, consisting of seven times seven quarter zones, is oriented precisely according to the points of the compass,
and is broken down into green areas running right on into the centre along its diagonals, but also along its orthogonal
lines. Here a pool of water framed by stone steps, a Kund, acquires the symbolic importance of the axis mundi, the
world axis of the universe. The centre was developed strictly in blocks, grouped around the pool of water in the prescribed geometrical fashion. The design that Correa prescribed for the building development inside the quarters is very dense in the centre and slowly but surely decreasing in density towards the edges of the quarters, with the possibility of breaking up altogether. Only a few dominant street links are laid down, so that connecting routes can emerge by their own accord during the growth period. Different housing types were to meet the needs of all income groups, with relatively high density development packed tightly into the quarter as a whole, was intended to create the typical oriental bazaar atmosphere. This design, which applies metaphysical symbolism to historical models in particular, has also been under construction since 1985.

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Source:Klaus-Peter Gast Contemporary Architecture in India Modern Traditions

Charles Correa – Kanchenjunga apartments

KANCHENJUNGA  APARTMENTS:

  • The building had to be oriented east – west to capture  prevailing sea breeze and views to the city.
  • But also the orientation for hot sun and heavy rains
  • Solution in old bungalows – wrapping a protective layer of verandahs around the main living areas
  • Kanchanjunga an attempt to apply these principles to a high-rise building
  • This building has 32 different apartments with 4 types of flats varying from 3 to 6 bedrooms.
  • Interlocking of these variations expressed externally by shear end walls that hold up the cantilevers
  • Minimalist surfaces cut away to open up double-height terrace gardens at the corners
  • Complex spatial organization of living spaces
  • Superficially, this 28-story tower, with its concrete construction and large areas of white panels, bears a strong resemblance to modern apartment buildings in the West
  • Tower’s proportion 1:4
  • (21 sqm and 84 m high)
  • Garden terraces actually a modern interpretation of a feature of the traditional Indian bungalow: the verandah
  • Each apartment provided with a deep, two-story-high garden terrace that is oriented away from the sun so as to afford protection from the elements

Charles Correa:

Education

  • 1946-1948 inter-science. St. Xavier’s college, university of Bombay
  • 1949-1955 B.Arch., University of Michigan.
  • 1953-1955 M.Arch., Massachusetts institute of technology.

Professional Experience

  • 1955-1958 partner with G.M. BHUTA associates
  • 1958- to date in private practice.
  • 1964-1965 prepared master plan proposing twin city across the harbor from Bombay.
  • 1969-1971 invited by the govt. of Peru
  • 1971-1975 chief architect to CIDCO
  • 1975-1976 consultant to UN secretory-general for HABITAT
  • 1975-1983 Chairman Housing Urban Renewal & Ecology Board
  • 1985 chairman dharavavi palnning commision

About him:

  • Born into a middle-class Catholic family in Bombay
  • Became fascinated with the principles of design as a child
  • At Michigan two professors who influenced him the most – Walter Salders and Buckminister Fuller.
  • Kevin lynch , then in the process of developing his themes for image of the city triggered Correa’s interest in urban issues
  • ‘India of those days was a different place, it was a brand-new country, there was so much hope; India stimulated me.’
  • —Architect, planner, activist and theoretician, an international lecturer and traveler.
  • —Correa’s work in India shows a careful development, understanding and adaptation of Modernism to a non-western culture. Correa’s early works attempt to explore a local vernacular within a modern environment. Correa’s land-use planning and community projects continually try to go beyond typical solutions to third world problems.
  • —India’s first man of architecture has a very simple philosophy: “Unless you believe in what you do, it becomes … boring,”

AWARDS:

  • 1961 Prize for low-income housing early
  • 1972 Correa was awarded the PadmaShri by the President of India
  • 1980 Correa was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Michigan
  • 1984 He was awarded the Gold Medal of the Royal          Institute of British Architects
  • 1985 Prize for the Improvement in the Quality of Human
  • Settlements from the International Union of Architects.
  • 1986 Chicago Architecture Award.
  • 1987 the Gold Medal of the Indian Institute of Architects
  • 1990 the Gold Medal of the UIA (International Union of Architects)
  • 1994 the Premium Imperial from Japan society of art.
  • 1999 Aga khan award for vidhan sabha, bhopal

Diversity

  • In Bombay – Salvacao Church at Dadar ; Kanchanjunga Apartments
  • In Goa for the Cidade de Goa Hotel and the Kala Academy,
  • In Ahmedabad – Gandhi Smarak Sangrahalaya ; Ramkrishna House
  • Delhi – The LIC Centre; British Council Building
  • Kerala – Kovalam Beach Resort Hotel
  • Andamans – Bay Island Hotel in Port Blair

Architectural utility and grandeur spread over the subcontinent

Principles

  • Few cardinal principles in his vast body of work;
  • incrementality
  • pluralism
  • participation
  • income generation
  • equity
  • open-to-sky space
  • disaggregation.

Belapur housing being the one project where he has literally used these principals

Correa and Corbusier

Like most architects of his generation he has been influenced by Le Corbusier , but by his response to the Mediterranean sun with his grand sculptural decisions he believes that Corbusier’s  influence in the colder climates has not been beneficial because these heroic gestures had to withdraw into defensible space, into mechanically heated (and cooled) interiors of the building.

On way back to Bombay in 1955 – saw the Jaoul House (le Corbusier)  in Paris under construction

‘I was absolutely knocked out . It was a whole new world way beyond anything being taught in America at that time .then I saw Chandigarh and his buildings in Ahmedabad . They seemed the only way to build.”

Correa and Gandhi

  • Gandhi’s goal for an independent India had been a village model, non-industrial, its architecture simple and traditional
  • In these early works Correa demonstrates uncompromising execution of an idea as a powerful statement of form

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Hafeez Contractor – Lake Castle

BIOGRAPHY

  • BORN -Mumbai 19 June 1950.
  • FAMILY– Parsi / Zoroastrian lineage included his mother Roshan,who was a teacher and his father Sorab Contrator , a business man.
  • Education-He did his Graduate Diploma in architecture from Mumbai in 1975 and completed his graduation from Columbia University New York (USA) on a Tata Scholarship.

PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND

  • Hafeez Contractor commenced his career in 1968 with T. Khareghat as an Apprentice Architect and in 1977 he became the associate partner in the same firm
  • Between 1977 and 1980 Hafeez has been a visiting faculty at the Academy of Architecture, Mumbai. He is a member of the Bombay Heritage Committee and New Delhi Lutyens Bungalow Zone Review Committee.
  • His practice had modest beginnings in 1982 with a staff of two. Today the firm has over 350 employees including senior associates, architects, interior designers, draftsmen, civil engineering team and architectural support staff.

PHILOSPHY

  • The architects believes that a company’s beliefs, visions, and values can be epitomized in a 3-D built form and its interior ambience.
  • His designs are provocative and unpredictable.
  • Hafeez is full of surprising and revolutionary ideas. His uncanny ability to change his architectural style from one commission to next is also a significant reason why his work is sought  after by so many.
  • He explains “architecture can give form to beliefs,and can make building into a real and arresting symbol of brand intent.”

Methodology

  • Previously he was more inclined towards a form based architecture but later on he designed in very mathematical manner.( site condition, client’s requirements, construction methodology and economics.)
  • He has no style, he works according to clients need; if client want work according to Vaastu then he incorporate that in the design.
  • He doesn’t do many details (but he wants) because of time and cost his forms so powerful that the building still looks detailed.
  • He believes that your building should really reflect your socio-economic and climatic relations.
  • Extensive use of glass and metallic panels on the facades confirms to the high tech expressions business seek to achieve.
  • Never fixed plan
  • Have axis but not always.
  • Give stress on landscaped terrace.
  • He picks elements from various typologies and use them as adornments for the exterior skin of the building.
  • He always treats the the corner of the building.

LAKE CASTLE,POWAI:

  • Location – Powai,Mumbai.
  • Client – Hiranandani Const. Pvt. Ltd.
  • Lake castle a residential apartment building ,nested in green surrounding of powaii,just a few miles away from main Bombay is one of the most spectacular product of eighties boom.
  • The dominant feature of Lake castle is its massive scale. 183 m. linear  length ,strikes you as an ocean ship going linear of a building with multiple decks anchored on the banks of powaii lake.
  • Tower block is surrounded by large garden and 8 acre forest park,all the flats faces the lake.
  • Creating a stepped mass profile ,which compliments the hills in the backdrop.
  • The architectural form is mean to symbolize a city silhouette that is made of a varying shapes  and sizes.
  • The building is almost like a mirror reflecting the densely layered profile of the city itself.
  • Lake castle is especially interesting because of a combination of ‘POP’ aesthetics, with conventionalized classical stylistics .
  • Egyptian motifs are used in building facades ,like the treatment given to the columns,the friezes and the details of the iron work.
  • The crescent shape projecting balconies ,curved projection and egyptian columns on the facades relieve the monotony into which building would have otherwise slipped .
  • Large French windows are repetitive  features on the facades.
  • To mitigate the  broadside effect of the  cliff of the building ,it has been punctured with significant cutouts known as sky decks.
  • further these the dramatic view of the sky though the building
  • The stepped profile and two huge cutouts further add to lighten the building.

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