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Charles Correa: A Visionary Architect of Housing and Urbanisation
Charles Correa was one of the most influential architects of the 20th century, who dedicated his career to addressing the challenges of housing and urbanisation in India and beyond. His work spanned over four decades and covered a wide range of projects, from low-cost, low-rise buildings to complete townships. He was also a visionary thinker and planner, who advocated for a humane and sustainable approach to urban development.
In this article, we will explore some of his most significant projects and ideas, as documented in his book Housing and Urbanisation, which is available for reference and purchase at UDRI Resource Centre[^1^]. This book is lavishly illustrated with more than 450 photographs, drawings and original sketches, and brings to the forefront again timeless issues which are fundamental to architecture â and to the habitat in which we live.
Correa believed that housing was not just a matter of providing shelter, but also of creating a sense of identity, community and culture. He designed housing projects that responded to the local context, climate and needs of the people, while also incorporating innovative solutions for space, light and ventilation. Some of his notable housing projects include:
The Tube House (1961), a prototype for low-cost housing that used precast concrete tubes as structural elements and created flexible spaces that could be adapted by the users.
The Ramkrishna House (1962), a courtyard house that used traditional materials and techniques to create a comfortable microclimate and a rich spatial experience.
The Punjab Housing (1976), a large-scale project that provided affordable housing for low-income families in Chandigarh, using modular units that could be arranged in various configurations.
The Kanchanjunga Apartments (1983), a high-rise building that reinterpreted the vernacular typology of bungalows with verandas, creating terraced gardens and open spaces for each apartment.
The Belapur Housing (1986), a participatory project that involved the residents in the design and construction of their own houses, using local materials and skills.
The Titan Township (1995), a planned community for the employees of a watch factory in Hosur, Tamil Nadu, that integrated housing, work, recreation and education facilities.
Correa was also concerned with the larger issues of urbanisation, such as population growth, migration, poverty, pollution and congestion. He proposed alternative models of urban development that respected the diversity and complexity of human settlements, while also promoting social equity and environmental quality. Some of his key contributions to urbanisation include:
The New Bombay Plan (1964-1974), a visionary proposal for a new city across the harbour from Mumbai, that aimed to decentralise growth, preserve natural resources and provide opportunities for all sections of society.
The Nariman Point Redevelopment (1970-1974), a project that transformed a reclaimed land into a prime commercial district in Mumbai, using a grid of open spaces and pedestrian walkways to create a human-scale environment.
The New Bagalkot Plan (1979-1983), a relocation plan for an old town that was threatened by submergence due to a dam project, that recreated the historic fabric and character of the original settlement.
The National Commission on Urbanisation (1985-1988), a comprehensive policy document that addressed the various aspects of urbanisation in India, such as governance, infrastructure, housing, heritage, ecology and culture.
The IUCAA Campus (1989-1992), an academic institution for astronomy and astrophysics in Pune, that expressed Correa's vision of an ideal city as a place of learning, discovery and wonder.
Charles Correa was a master architect who left behind a legacy of inspiring projects and ideas that continue to shape the discourse on housing and urbanisation. His book Housing and Urbanisation is a valuable resource for anyone interested in learning more about his work and philosophy. It is also a reminder of the role and responsibility of architecture in creating a better world for everyone. ec8f644aee