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Kanchenjunga by India’s Greatest Architect, Charles Correa

Have you experienced winds being breezier on the upper floor than on the lower levels? What about the view? Incredible, isn’t it? Well, that’s the privilege of dwelling in high risers. Adapting skyscrapers is also expected due to increasing land prices. The 84m tall Kanchenjunga by India’s greatest architect, Charles Correa, is one of those pioneering high-rise buildings built in the 1970s. You can find it crowning the skyline of Mumbai in India.

Kanchenjunga
Kanchenjunga Apartments ; Image source : archdaily.com 
  • Building Name : Kanchenjunga
  • Location : Mumbai, India
  • Architect : Charles Correa
  • Building Type : Residential Complex
  • Primary Building Material : Concrete

Despite Charles Correa being a modern architect with western academic roots, he directed his design approach towards a sustainable vernacular style. His works primarily focus on climate-responsive architecture and urban planning. He built the Kanchenjunga as a vertical stack of bungalows that optimizes its site context and climate conditions. 

Join us as we explore some stunning details of Kanchenjunga and its incredible spatial planning. We will also relate Charles Correa’s design approach and his ideologies towards planning and designing this remarkable building.

Now without any further ado, shall we begin?

Charles Correa, Design Approach

As one of the most incredible architects in shaping Indian infrastructure post-independence, Charles Correa is a pioneer with a visionary of embracing bold design combining global and vernacular trends. With his admirable personality and approaches to architecture, he is an inevitable pillar in benchmarking modern architecture in India.

Six basic principles reinforced the philosophies behind his architectural accomplishment. You can experience the reflection of most of these principles in almost all his works.

  • Incremental housing. Instead of demolishing and rebuilding, he preferred to improve the slums gradually into urban zones
  • Income generation. Creating spaces to encourage income, like the buffalo rearing zone in Belapur housing.
  • Pluralism. He envisioned to built areas that united people rather than catering only to a specific caste or religion.
  • Identity. He adopted certain forms and elements to preserve the building’s style and identity. 
  • Local vernacular. He uses climate-responsive vernacular techniques to address the functional needs of the spaces.
  • Open to the sky. He celebrated the sky as a blessing and included open-to-sky areas in his designs to elevate the experience.

Features of Kanchenjunga

 Post independence, the land prices skyrocketed at full speed, creating opportunities for high risers. Kanchenjunga followed the trend and has 32 luxury apartments stacked vertically. Some of the key features of the building are as follows. 

Kanchenjunga
Image source : archdaily.com
Kanchenjunga
  • It has 32 apartments with four typologies ranging from 3 to 6 bedrooms
  • The entire building follows a 1:4 proportion, with the tower’s base being 21 square meters and a height of 84 meters. 
  • The cantilever terraces have visual connectivity to the floors.
  • Orienting the double-story verandah facing the sun protected it from the scorching heat.
  • Large openings invite better light and ventilation.

Design and Planning

In Mumbai, the east-west axis provides a profound vista of the Arabian sea and the harbor. However, it also experiences the scorching heat of the afternoon sun and heavy monsoon rains. As the building was a high riser, these problems were inevitable and escalated with height. It was critical to find the middle line that optimizes the site’s context without suffering its climatic issues.

Kanchenjunga
Site Analysis. Image source: archestudy.com
  • Charles Correa retaliated to these troubles by buffering the living areas with large terrace openings that restricted the heat and rain yet provided an uncompromisable vista. 
  • He designed four typologies of apartments and interlocked them with minor changes in their levels. 
  • The central concrete core had services like lifts and staircases, while the apartments spread on the outer periphery.
  • He stacked 32 apartments over 28 stories, ranging from 3 to 6 bedrooms
  • His expertise in cellular planning created an interlocked spatial flow with differentiated levels by the external terrace and the internal volumes of the living spaces. 
Kanchenjunga
Interlocking units; Image source: archestudy.com

Here, you can find the sectional detail of the floor in the Kanchenjunga apartment. The interlocking of different typologies creates a unique blend of spatial dynamics. The variation in level within the interior expands the visual connectivity within the building and its exteriors.

Kanchenjunga
Apartment typologies; Image source: archestudy.com
  • The building structure includes two apartments on each floor, with split dwellings. The bedrooms of these typologies vary from 3 to 6 and have separate balconies for living and bedroom areas. 
  • The verandas in these apartments are cantilevered up to 6.3m, creating a secondary shield from the monsoon rains and afternoon sun. The double-story verandahs invite profound visual connectivity between the condo and the urban vista. 
The central service core and peripheral living areas; Image source: archestudy.com
  • The building’s structure supports by reinforced concrete. It has a central core for vertical circulation. It also behaves as a structural element that provides structural stability to the floor plate, resisting the lateral loads. 
  • The service core consisting of the lift and staircases was built before the apartment structure using the slip method.
  • Kanchenjunga is famous for being the first building to use the slip method for constructing high risers. The method was essential to maintain its structural stability and cantilever verandahs.

Conclusion

Although you might find those white panels and plain facades devoid of ornamentation resembles western influences, the use of verandahs and open-to-sky spaces routes us back to the traditional Indian bungalows. Kanchenjunga by India’s greatest architect Charles Correa is an excellent example of a true amalgam of modernism in Indian vernacular architecture.

His ideologies and principles are foundations for many aspiring architects in our current generations. With his climatic responsive designs and cellular planning skills, Charles flaunts the mighty high riser, Kanchenjunga, in Mumbai city’s skyline.

By Hajara Banu

Hajara Banu is a professional architect, content writer, and strategist. She is on her journey to share her love of architecture, design, and content creation. Besides writing, Hajara loves coffee and often experiments with cooking and organizing in her free time.

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