Volume zero is a documentary based on the philosophy of what Charles Correa thought and how he implemented that in his work throughout. The documentary gives a brief idea about the Indian lifestyle and cultures that had been in Correa’s design concepts. 

This documentary is a must-watch for all the architects or architectural students and even any person who is in designing field because Charles Correa not all talks about architectural elements but also tells how any kind of art plays with the visual connections with the public and how any art form has its uniqueness and adds value to space. 

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Charles Correa ©YouTube 

At the start of the documentary every person is mysterious about the title “Volume Zero”, the reasoning of the title is stated at the end of the whole documentary with a simple backward question that Correa wants to know. The plot of the documentary is in such a way that lets you understand Charles Correa as a person and how he developed a passion for architecture from his childhood fascination with trains and ships which helped him in understanding and reading plans and sections, his train toys also helped him in developing forms and movement within the spaces. 

Further, the documentary elaborates his professional practices, which he started in 1958 in Mumbai, after pursuing graduation and master’s degree from the US, and in 1955 he came back to newly independent India, from where his journey of creating building experience started. Charles Correa was very fascinated with the Mughal architecture and their climate-responsive structures in that era with courtyards. 

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Gandhi Smarak Sangrahalaya ©Wikipedia

Few of the design of Correa like Gandhi Smarak Sangrahalaya -Ahmedabad, tube house- Ahmedabad, Parekh house-Ahmedabad, Ramakrishna house-Ahmedabad, Hindu lever pavilion-new Delhi, kanchenjunga housing–Mumbai, incremental housing–Belapur, Verem villas- Goa, Kala academy-Goa, Sonmarg Apartments (Correa’s home)-Mumbai, Jawahar Kala Kendra –Jaipur, Intern university center for astronomy and astrophysics-Pune, MRF headquarters-Chennai, brain & cognitive science center- Boston, Vidhan Bhavan-Bhopal and Bharat Bhavan – Bhopal are been discussed in the documentary and how Correa had developed concepts in these buildings. 

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Planning with context ©World Architecture Community

Charles Correa created a movie called “city on water” for explaining the problems Mumbai is facing and future population growth will make it even worse and suggested some solutions for the same in the movies which were later considered by the government and CIDCO in Navi Mumbai was developed. He even exhibited “Vistara: the architecture of India” where local arts and crafts in the form of painting, fabric were displayed which portrait the ideas about the cosmos in architecture. 

The takeaway from this documentary for the designers is to understand the context of the surrounding with the purpose of the building and how to develop the spaces according to their need and form. Correa is always designed in a manner of keeping the context and climate on top priority. 

Visual arts also play a major role in experiencing the space as he designed some of his projects with the help of artistic painters to enhance the overall experience of a certain building or space. The movement pattern among the spaces was a reflection of Indian culture. And whatever the scenario is there needs to be a relation between the space and the context and nothing should dominate each other. 

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Kala Academy ©World Architecture Community

The documentary also talks about his personal life from his marriage to the number of children and grandchildren. His wife has been in the textile industry and influenced his house with textiles decorations. He was awarded prestigious awards like Padma Shri in 1972 and various others. Charles Correa’s conversation with Louis Kahn led to the title of the documentary where he tells that Louis Kahn had a passion for English history and had 8 volumes but he did not think the history would have been started as what is mentioned in volume one so he wanted to know what was as volume zero, hence the title. 

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Padma Shri award in 1972 ©Archinect 

The documentary is a whole new experience for the viewers which gives them a perspective of seeing things differently and that the end-user experience is what matters. The lifestyle and the cultural values of India are so vast and unique that if those elements are drawn into the spaces then the whole atmosphere in both, visually and the feeling of the space would change the effect of the building. 

Even slight details can give different opportunities to the user to feel the surroundings. The documentary can be said as an art that portrays all the elements in such a way that Charles Correa talks about in his designs that is there is rhythm in the whole idea of the works and his philosophy, in the end, Correa states that:   

“Strange indeed that man, since the beginning of time, has always used the most

Inert material, like stone and bricks, to express the invisibilla that move him.”


kunal Rakshit. (2015).  Volume Zero: Documentary on Charles Correa. [YouTube]. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uzK86VPXUs8&t=100s. [Accessed: 25/ March/ 2021].


Shivalika is a final year student of architecture from Mumbai. She is kind of a “Go with the flow” person and gives 100% to that flow. She likes observing the surroundings, capturing scenic beauty with her eyes and think, there is no choice between beaches and mountains, they both are necessary.

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