This site uses cookies to offer you an improved and personalised experience. If you continue to browse, we will assume your consent for the same.
LEARN MORE AGREE

Charles Correa’s Jawahar Kala Kendra is a revelation of the modernist’s genius

On the 89th birth anniversary (September 01, 2019) of the legendary Indian architect, Charles Correa, STIR reflects on one of his most celebrated projects – The Jawahar Kala Kendra in Jaipur.

by STIRworld Sep 02, 2019

At the Jawahar Kala Kendra, Correa uses the Navagraha, the 9-square mandala based on the mythological offerings of the Hindu Vedic texts to define the enclosure of the museum. The squares correspond to real and imaginary planets, such that each becomes the symbolic representation of the setting. Externally, the planets appear on the red sand stone facades as symbols inlayed in white marble and granite, while the plan configuration of nine squares corresponds internally to the mythical qualities associated with each planet. Mars signifies power, so the place of Mars, or Mangal Mahal, houses the offices of administration; Guru represents knowledge, and so forms the museum library; Venus as the artistic sign encloses the theater complex, and so on. At the very center of the universe, and imparting to the planets its creative energy, the sun manifests in the stepped tank, a reservoir of knowledge and confluence, of meeting and reflection.

  • Symbols | JKK | Charles Correa Associates | STIR
    Symbols Image Credit: Courtesy of Charles Correa Foundation
  • Idea Explorations | JKK | Charles Correa Associates | STIR
    Idea Explorations Image Credit: Charles Correa / Courtesy of Charles Correa Foundation

The journey through the building, the movement through its celestial divisions is marked by a diversity of spatial densities. Individual buildings inside coalesce into a kind of cellular reordering – random accretions of requirements, that either lean against the surrounding high walls like architectural parasites, or group and regroup in independent formations. Such accretions create their own peculiar definitions of court, suggesting the qualities and scales intrinsic to the functions housed within.

Isometric drawing of layout | JKK | Charles Correa Associates | STIR
Isometric drawing of layout Image Credit: Courtesy of Charles Correa Foundation

The actual experience of the museum – unstructured though it may be – begins to redefine the very act of cultural display. Heritage, as the design conveys, is a matter of accidental encounter and discovery – a process that relies on the natural instincts and inclinations of a person moving through space, between the stage set of walls, past recreated incidents and rituals of art and craft. Such a design conception - suggesting perhaps a multitude of internal variations - questions the very conventions of museum design and presents a physical rethink of the idea.

  • A view of the central court at the JKK | JKK | Charles Correa Associates | STIR
    A view of the central court at the JKK Image Credit: Mehendra Sinh
  • Quaint exteriors with simple geometric composition of staircases | JKK | Charles Correa Associates | STIR
    Quaint exteriors with simple geometric composition of staircases Image Credit: Courtesy of STIR
  • A traditional mural on one of the walls of the complex | JKK | Charles Correa Associates | STIR
    A traditional mural on one of the walls of the complex Image Credit: Mehendra Sinh

“The primordial has become a fecund source of the mythic,” says Correa, “This is why Picasso and Matisse in their paintings, Stravinsky in his music, and Le Corbusier in his architecture intuitively searched out the primitive.”

The design of JKK comes from the city (of Jaipur) itself, which was based on the nine squares each representing nine planets. –Charles Correa
  • The exteriors are clad in red sandstone inspired from the high sandstone of the city of Jaipur | JKK | Charles Correa Associates | STIR
    The exteriors are clad in red sandstone inspired from the high sandstone of the city of Jaipur Image Credit: Mehendra Sinh
  • The museum complex surrounds a beautiful landscape | JKK | Charles Correa Associates | STIR
    The museum complex surrounds a beautiful landscape Image Credit: Courtesy of Charles Correa Associates

It is easy to accept the inherent arbitrariness of this internal occupation because the external confinement is formed by so reductive, so severe a delineation. Within the setting of the nine squares is an architecture of wit and whimsy, as singularly playful in its creation as it is specific to the functions demanded of it. Enclosed by high parapets, life goes on inside in the numerous demolitions, insertions or reorganizations. But the exterior, irresolute in its material joining – like the wall of the old city - remains undisturbed. Like Jaipur, enclosed by high sandstone walls and approached through framing portals, the Jawahar Kala Kendra too relives a more contemporary historical destiny.

  • The Nine Planets | JKK | Charles Correa Associates | STIR
    The Nine Planets Image Credit: Mehendra Sinh
  • Layout Plan | JKK | Charles Correa Associates | STIR
    Layout Plan Image Credit: Courtesy of Charles Correa Foundation
  • Longitudinal Section | JKK | Charles Correa Associates | STIR
    Longitudinal Section Image Credit: Courtesy of Charles Correa Associates

Project Details:

Name of the project: Jawahar Kala Kendra
Location: Jaipur, Rajasthan
Client: Government of Rajasthan
Architect: Charles Correa Associates
Built-up area: 9.5 acres
Construction: 5 Years (1986 - 1991)

(This article was first published in Issue#19 of mondo*arc india journal - an initiative by STIR.)

Comments

Comments Added Successfully!

About Author

STIRworld

STIRworld

Editorial team of STIRworld

Recommended

LOAD MORE
see more articles
117,606,565,264,77

Keep it stirring

get regular updates SIGN UP

Collaborate with us