End of an Era: Ar. Charles Correa
Ar. Kanika Jamdar, who worked with the legendary architect Charles Correa, shares a deeply personal account of her experience and offers a touching eulogy to the one Indian architect who has inspired generations of architects, across the world. He is no more, but will continue to live on, through his work.
If there is one thing in my life that still continues to hold meaning - it is my two-and-a-half years of working with Charles Correa. To say it was just another job, would undermine all that it did for me - our long chats about design, graphics, architecture, people, places, food, jokes! What a wonderful boss he was - teaching us little details, reprimanding us for not having "an eye". But what I actually received was ‘learning’ - in its purest form, not just about architecture; but perhaps a lot about life too.
Charles was every bit the genius that the world saw in his architecture, but working with him we were privileged to see him closely. He was someone who had mastered his craft so well that he saw things people didn't see. Always grounded to the earth - his context and people, but making a powerful connection to the sky - his architecture. Nobody taught me, ever so subtly, the fundamentals of design in conversation, as did he.
How do you encapsulate in words, a person who spent his entire life being a wizard in all that he undertook? Even at 84, he had the fire of a 20-something. Many a times, at the end of a long day, we would be exhausted but he would still be sitting with the same amount of energy and zest – and this continued right till the end! We spoke about photographers, designers, architects and design in such a broad spectrum that I always left office feeling I had so much more to learn!
And he was such a good teacher; always eager to see the work his employees were doing, to know about them - their families, homes, where they came from, what they wish to do! There were no "positions" in his office - everyone was on the same level and everyone could and did contribute to design processes. I was always treated as an equal - my opinion was often asked for, and it mattered too. We ate lunch together most days, and he would either throw up a riddle to solve, or engage us in conversation that lunch-time would extend way beyond an hour! That’s what I mean – the office never felt like office. It was probably a studio of life and learning! I vividly remember the book he showed us one evening, a black and white photography book of beautifully done prints of villas in France. In each interaction, we would be told of a book, an artist, a piece of music, a movie ... and work carried on.
I have never met someone who had such a voracious hunger for life, as did Charles - nothing missed his attention, everything was worth carrying a wonder for and everything could be made terrific! He also introduced me to some of the best jazz music. My Goan sojourn is full of memories; of bougainvilleas, jazz and the salty Goan air.
I don't even know where to begin to say thank you, Sir. Can you possibly thank someone who has added so much value to your life, in ways yet unknown? Sir, you will be truly missed and I will be ever indebted and grateful to you. May you transcend beyond the cosmos, into the unknown.