In 1970, land values were shooting up in Bombay, which resulted in the acceptance of high-rise residential buildings for the developers. Charles Correa accepted one such project in Columba Hill, South Mumbai. He already explored his concepts in the unbuilt cosmopolis of 1958 and the Rallis Apartment leading to the realization of the Kanchanjunga Apartments. Through the influence of vernacular architecture, the design responds to the changing conditions of the climate coupled with the rapid urbanization in the city. Kanchanjunga Apartments is a 32 story residential building consisting of luxury apartments on each floor. This project was done in collaboration with Pravina Mehta as the associate architect and Shirish Patel as the structural engineer.
- Architect: Charles Correa
- Location: Bombay, India
- Completed on: 1983
- Building Type: Skyscraper multi-family housing
- Construction System: Concrete
- Floors: 32
The location and climate of Bombay dispense architects with a dilemma in design. The east-west axis provides ample sightings of the Arabian Sea and the harbor with the added benefit of receiving all the sea breezes. The axis also harbors harsh afternoon sun and troublesome monsoon rains. The situation was unavoidable as the typology of the building is high-rise due to urbanization and high land prices. There was a need to seize the opportunities while carefully designing with limitations in mind.
Correa used an indigenous approach to the spatial organization of a typical bungalow. The main living spaces with an enclosed verandah whilst turning that buffer zone into a garden, thriving on the problem. Because of climatic considerations with existing views, the massing settled upon a configuration facing east and west. Correa interlocked four different apartment units with small variations in levels on the floor leading to the eventual garden verandah suspended in the air. 32 apartments stacked over 28 stories form an interlock of 3 with 4 bedroom units and 5 with 6 bedroom units which reveal themselves through sheer end walls that support the cantilevers.
The arrangement of apartments and the program of various units in the apartment is reminiscent of Le Corbusier’s Unite’ d’Habitation, with a difference of opening up as compared to horizontal corridors. There are two apartments on each floor with the tower core as vertical circulation, with split-level dwellings. The apartments vary from 180 to 420 square meters with bedrooms ranging from 3 to 6. All apartments have servant rooms that are directly connecting to the kitchen.
The interiors are detailing as compared to the simple exterior. Also, the double-height terrace differs from interior and exterior spaces. Within the flat, the users enlive with views of the city out of the living and bedrooms and terraces.
The Structure and Construction of Kanchanjunga Apartments
The building is a 32-story reinforced concrete structure cantilevering 6.3 meters for the open terraces. The central core addresses the lateral loads while providing for vertical circulation (elevators and staircases). Majorly known for the first building in India constructed through a slip method, that is, construction of the central core before the peripheral structure. So the method was necessary to address the cantilevered terraces. And the floors connect the facade with the structural core. The dual concrete construction forms a tube-in-tube system adding to the stability of the whole tower.
The style certainly is not rigid. It has both aspects of traditional vernacular style through the experience of a bungalow and modern style in terms of its exterior and form. The verandahs being interpreted as garden terraces for each unit while incorporating concrete structure with the white panel areas show a fusion of the opposites that pioneer sustainable design integrated with indigenous environment controls. Therefore the style attracts and deserves attention to traditional interiors and modern exteriors.
The Takeaway Features of Kanchanjunga Apartments
- 32 unique apartments with four kinds of flats ranging from 3 to 6 bedrooms.
- Shear end walls holding the cantilevered terrace while visually connecting the floors.
- The base of the tower is 21 square meters and height is 84 meters which makes it a proportion of 1:4.
- The double-height terraces are oriented against the sun to protect each apartment unit.
- Large openings and terrace gardens provide transparency.
Overall, the techniques and concepts to address problems and opportunities provided by the context were relatively new. The building still stands today and is visiting by countless architecture enthusiasts. Inhabitants also enjoy the lifestyle in the tower that merges two different worlds of styles that were the personality of the architect itself.
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Khushro Ansari is an Architect. While juggling between college submissions and research deadlines he finds time to write about architecture and founded archEstudy. He is a passionate individual with a penchant for architectural design, innovative design, and creative writing. He aspires to bring design activism and sustainability to the forefront in all his professional endeavors.