A revolutionary high-rise structure, standing 32 storeys high, resonating the values of climate sensitivity and stepping up to the requirement of a growing city, is probably how the Kanchanjunga Apartments could be classified as. The design mind of the Architect, Charles Correa, inexplicably combining the values of Indian Architecture and the knowledge of western styles gained through his years of valuable learning with profound designers and design needs were replicated in this Architectural marvel that stands tall in the crowded south Mumbai metro city. A building so profoundly paradoxical in a city like Mumbai, filled with houses like a matchbox, closed in, finding shelter in every nook and corner, here it stands inviting the city within itself in all its glory

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1_The pattern of openings in Kanchanjunga ©www.archdaily

A contemporary legend | Kanchanjunga Apartments

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A full view of the Kanchanjunga ©architexturez.net

Charles Correa has been nothing short of deserving a top tier in the hall of fame for Legendary Architects who’ve made a mark in India. His work has always been a replication of the theories and ideas he synthesized over time. Born in India and educated in Architecture from the USA, he was immensely focused on combining the best of both worlds. The Gandhi Smarak in Ahmedabad epitomizes simplicity in design and thought, but still resonating its language of Architecture, the Jawahar Kala Kendra that never ceases to amaze people with its complexity in scale and material usage, the Belapur Incremental Housing which was a breakthrough in mass housing while maintaining core Indian values, are some examples of Charles Correa’s legacy that remains. Inspired by architects such as Le Corbusier and Kevin Lynch, he created his diverse way of finding solutions to India’s growing problems. From bridging the gap between ideas using Western building techniques and Indian ideologies to blending them seamlessly and making a fusion style that stands on its own, Charles Correa displayed.

The Kanchenjunga is an architectural marvel that still portrays its qualities of being climatically sensitive to the region through its orientation on the site, considering harsh sunlight as well as the cool breeze from the sea. Its immaculate placement is not just limited to the ground level but also micro-organized on the upper-level units as well. The residential tower accomplishes this by positioning itself east-west to capture prevailing sea breezes and a magnificent view of the city. In addition to that, the building amplifies the concept of thermal comfort, to provide a comfortable temperature to the residents occupying these premium units of residences. The popular concept seen in old bungalows, to wrap itself around by a protective layer of verandahs was replicated to scale the towering height of a high-rise building.

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Double height balcony gardens ©architexturez.net
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Typical section, showing interlock of basic unit ©www.archdaily

The tower was held together against the shear stress by the core space in the center that included the lifts and staircases as well. The slip method of construction was used for the first time in India, in which concrete is continuously poured onto a moving form, to make the construction precise and time-saving. The core space was constructed before the other parts of the building were done on-site, because of the structural dependency on the core for access during construction as well as structural support. Taking the support of this massive structural system, Correa could provide cantilevered verandah spaces that could span up to 6 m to the side. The deep terrace garden spaces that open up to the outdoors are oriented away from the sun to offer protection from the menacing heat from the south, in Mumbai.

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Wind patterns and directions ©identityhousing.wordpress

Another aspect of the building to shield the south sun is the minimal openings on the south, thereby reducing the amount of heat penetrating the living spaces. The hierarchy of spaces inside a unit was evident through the difference of respective volumes from the entrance opening up to the double-height balconies with terrace garden through the interstitial space in between that included a mezzanine floor. Bearing in mind the legible section and its uses, the spatial organization, and planning of the insides are quite complex. The tower includes different units that vary from 3-6 bedrooms showcasing the same principles. The flats are planned for further thermal comfort by enabling the units to cross circulate wind, longitudinally through openings in the building. The Kanchenjunga is almost completely made of concrete, with just the reinforcements by steel In its structure. The R.C.C construction, with an emphasis on the structural core for support with its white-painted plaster finish, gave it the look of skyscrapers that made it to the books in the West. That said, it takes a prodigal Architectural brain to alter the characteristics to the best possible features in a different geographical location such as India.

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Modular Units ©identityhousing.wordpress
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Organisation of spaces & natural sources – left
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Elevations from South, West, North and East ©identityhousing.wordpress.com

An experience within itself

Inclusive of all the architectural complexities and details and the excellence in design, Kanchenjunga is a heap of stories within a city like Mumbai. Known for its overcrowding, minimal space to live, and concrete jungles, the existence of this structure so beautifully designed as to so openly bringing in Mumbai and its beauty, sea and its views, the view of majestic buildings around, and just the lifestyle of the city into the lives of its residents is the beauty of Kanchenjunga. Sure the architect has his own stories to tell about the structure, the thought process, but to just have a structure adapting to a city as to just become a part of it, having balconies so huge that they become the gateway to just take in the city of Mumbai, to be a cozy corner to sit and enjoy the sunset, whilst listening to the waves splashing against the land with its proximity to the sea, Kanchenjunga is surely a haven. The views one different from others, some calming some an inspiration to its residents, the stories, the silence when the city sleeps, the noise, the breeze, Kanchenjunga apart from being a structure is an experience within itself

Citations

ArchDaily. (2011). AD Classics: Kanchanjunga Apartments / Charles Correa. [online] Available at: https://www.archdaily.com/151844/ad-classics-kanchanjunga-apartments-charles-correa.

Charles Correa, Pravina Mehta and Shirish Patel (1983). Kanchanjunga Apartments at Cumbala Hill. Journal of The Indian Institute of Architects, [online] 59(02). Available at: https://architexturez.net/doc/az-cf-123762.

‌architectuul.com. (n.d.). Kanchenjunga Apartments. [online] Available at: http://architectuul.com/architecture/kanchenjunga-apartments [Accessed 5 Apr. 2021].

identity housing. (2009). Charles Correa – Kanchanjunga Apartments, Cumballa Hill, Mumbai, 1970-1983. [online] Available at: https://identityhousing.wordpress.com/2009/12/03/charles-correa-kanchanjunga-apartments-cumballa-hill-mumbai-1970-1983/.

Darsan babu
Author

Darsan Babu, an architect, dreamer and a storyteller who loves to take on challenges and reform perspectives on some days, but sit by the mountain and quote words of Howard Roark on others. Would love to explore all things architecture, educate and shape the Urbanscape soon enough.

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