A Tribute to Charles Correa by Rafael Moneo

Prof. Rafael Moneo pens a letter in tribute to Ar. Charles Correa. The gentlemen, both icons in their respective nations and across the globe, share a long friendship and mutual admiration.

June 30, 2015

It was with great sadness and surprise that I heard last week of Charles Correa’s passing away. I had seen him recently in Goa and although indeed he did seem fragile, I never thought he would leave us so rapidly.

In spite of his illness, Charles Correa still possessed the energy and integrity which had always characterized him. And this dignity, or even aura, was still vibrant and very much present. An image of him comes to mind, impeccably dressed, as I hear him speaking to us, his guests at Goa, in his house, like one of many along the river, helping us to understand the city and its profoundly rooted culture.

Charles was one of the few people I ‘ve known whose physical presence seemed to permeate his architecture. Honesty, clarity, solidity, and respectfulness, seemed to emanate from them both. The tall and athletic man (even still when I saw him in Goa these days), with his dark and profound eyes, incapable of deception, possessed a dignity, a gravity and a lack of affectation also found in his architecture. In buildings, the presence of these virtues is manifest in their unequivocal quality. They have a natural and direct relationship with their site, existing without tension in their surroundings. His architecture is endowed with the same gentleness as the man.

Charles Correa’s respect for people was at the heart of architecture and his designs focused on how buildings serve people. I would say that these are principles that stayed with him from his education in the ´50’s and ´60’s, a clear tribute to the social content of his work.

Charles Correa always recognized his origins and cultural heritage. One felt the breadth of history behind him, that his work stood as a representation of a deep social tradition, based on the profound experience of the Indian spirit, a valuable contribution to today´s global architecture. His legacy will persist in his early buildings such as the Gandhi Memorial in Ahmebadad, or in the more recent Institute for Brain Research at MIT or Lisbon´s Champalimaud Foundation.

I believe, and it is my sincere hope, that the Charles Correa Foundation, to which he dedicated so much energy and enthusiasm in these last years, will actively promote his archive so that students and architects will have the benefit of his life´s work.

Rafael Moneo, 30 June 2015

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