Our Lady of Salvation Church (Charles Correa Now)
Mumbai, India

The design of this church in Dadar, Bombay (Mumbai), commenced in 1974, and the building work was completed in 1977. The church consists of a series of interlocking courtyards and covered spaces which allows functions to take place both indoors or outdoors, depending on the weather. The design is based on the life of Christ expressed through Baptism, his public life and the Crucifixion; each of these corresponding theologically to Preparation, Instruction or Enlightenment and the Final Sacrifice. It's been an essential building for Charles, both in life and in death. The funeral mass of Charles Correa took place here in 2015.

The concrete domes or shells hold a prominent space in the building's elevation, and are visible from afar. They are also functional, acting as flues for the rising hot air in the interconnected buildings. Another intervention worth noting is that the glass fresco on the skylight of the central dome in the baptistery, the creation renowned Indian artist, M.F. Husain, who is known for his bold and vibrant paintings. The stained skylight, although aged, remains a prominent feature above the main altar.

The church has changed significantly since construction was completed in 1977. According to an article on the website Architexturez.net, "In 1983 Correa added to the entrance area of the church and changed the facades to add curves where once there were straight lines, re-inventing the RCC matrix at which the 'cannon' sits and by the addition of brick stud walls. This softens the Corbusian forms he originally used to create the church, which adopted the 'closed-box architecture of the North' to Indian conditions. The changes, some ten years after the building's conception, have enriched views across the site, generated additional alcoves for worship, and created a more evocative and flamboyant building in this new context."

While waiting in the church office for permission to photograph the building, I noticed a photograph of an old Portuguese building surrounded by a vast crowd. The text below the picture mentioned that it was the same church I was standing in, but before its renovation in 1977. The photo showed the visit of Pope Paul VI, who visited Mumbai in 1964.

The old church was originally built by Portuguese Franciscans in the late 1500s, and subsequently rebuilt four times. Each successive structure inherited some of the paraphernalia from its predecessor. An article in the Indian Express says that "When Correa first remodelled it, the church design was much debated, though now many consider it a landmark." Over time, the building underwent further changes. For example, the exposed concrete interiors of the shells have been repainted over the years. 

One of the shells was being repainted at the time of my visit. The COVID-19 pandemic has also prompted the authorities to sanitize the altar and seats of the main hall every time it's opened to the public. Massive compound walls have been erected around the church as well.

When I first visited, the dawn light entered the church's courtyard while it was being sanitized with a sanitizer that functioned more like a fogging machine. It looked surreal, with angular light passing through the fog and entering the altar.

-Nipun Prabhakar, 2021

2R9P+FFH, Omkar Society, Gokhale Road, West, Dadar, Mumbai, Mumbai, India
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Our Lady of Salvation Church (Charles Correa Now)
Salvacao Church
Portuguese Church
Our Lady of Salvation Church
अवर लेडी ऑफ साल्वेशन चर्च
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