Interior Room of the Sabarmati Ashram Museum (Gandhi Residence) / Charles Correa
Inside the Gandhi Memorial Museum | © Charles Correa Archives

The Gandhi Memorial Museum, designed by renowned Indian architect Charles Correa, is a significant landmark located in the Sabarmati Ashram, Ahmedabad, India. Completed in 1963, the museum is dedicated to preserving and showcasing the life and legacy of Mahatma Gandhi, who lived in the Ashram from 1917 to 1930. The museum houses a rich collection of Gandhi’s personal items, including books, letters, and photographs, and serves as a testimony to his life and ideals.

Gandhi Memorial Museum Technical Information

This is the right place for our activities to carry on the search for Truth and develop Fearlessness. On one side are the iron bolts of the foreigners and on the other, thunderbolts of mother nature.

– Mahatma Gandhi1

Gandhi Memorial Museum Photographs

Courtyard inside the Sabarmati Ashram Museum (Gandhi Residence) / Charles Correa
Water Features in the Gandhi Memorial Museum | © Archives of Charles Correa
Sabarmati Ashram Museum (Gandhi Residence) / Charles Correa
Modules | © Archives of Charles Correa
Exterior of the Sabarmati Ashram Museum (Gandhi Residence) / Charles Correa
Exterior View of the Museum | © Archives of Charles Correa
Bench inside the Sabarmati Ashram Museum (Gandhi Residence) / Charles Correa
Patios of the Museum | © Archives of Charles Correa

Honoring the Legacy of Gandhi: A Visit to the Gandhi Memorial Museum

The commission was Charles Correa’s first important work in private practice. To reflect the simplicity of Gandhi’s life and the incremental nature of a living institution, the architect used modular units 6 meters by 6 meters of reinforced cement concrete connecting open and covered spaces, allowing for eventual expansion. Correa’s subtle changes in the enclosure allow for variety in the module’s lighting, temperature, and visual permeability.

The museum’s design embodies the spirit of swadeshi, which describes Gandhi’s philosophy of self-reliance and self-sufficiency. The architecture is characterized by its modest scale, using traditional building materials such as brick piers, stone floors, and tiled roofs to create a contemporary and traditional space. The museum is a revered site, attracting both national and international visitors who come to learn about Gandhi’s life and philosophy and to pay homage to one of the most influential figures of the 20th century.

The museum uses a simple but delicately detailed post and beam structure. Load-bearing brick columns support concrete channels, which also support the wooden roof. The foundation is made of concrete and is raised a foot from the ground.

The museum’s monumental and archetypal structure recalls the well-known work of Louis Kahn, who began two projects in the region shortly after Correa’s museum was built.

Being a Gujarati, I thought I should be able to render the greatest services to the country through the Gujarati language. And then as Ahmedabad was an ancient centre of hand loom weaving, it was likely to be most favourable field for the revival of the cottage industry of hand spinning. There was also a hope that, the city being capital of Gujarat, monetary help from its wealthy citizens would be more available than any other place.

– Gandhi explanation for choosing Ahmedabad as the hub of activities.

The Gandhi Smarak Sangrahalaya project provided an example of how to combine the Hindu Architectural and cosmological idea of isotropy with Modernist functional planning. The concept of isotropy (similar to fractals) refers to an infinitely scaleable structure found in the repetition and manipulation of Hindu temples’ decorative elements. In the Smarak Sangrahalaya, the modular pavilion unit was designed to facilitate a future extension and to emphasize the idea of a single component making a whole.

Correa placed five distinctly programmed interior spaces within the asymmetrical grid plan. The museum’s plan has also been compared to village houses in India’s Banni region. Instead of a single volume, the houses consist of five huts with different functions surrounding a courtyard. The inhabitants walk back and forth across the outside space to use the different rooms.

Gandhi Memorial Museum Plans

Floor Plan of the Museum
Floor Plan | © Charles Correa
Section of the Sabarmati Ashram Museum (Gandhi Residence) / Charles Correa
Section and Site Plan | © Charles Correa

About Charles Correa

Charles Mark Correa was an Indian architect and urban planner. Credited for creating modern architecture in post-Independent India, he was celebrated for his sensitivity to the urban poor’s needs and his use of traditional methods and materials. He designed almost 100 buildings in India, from low-income housing to luxury condos and cultural buildings such as the Jawahar Kala Kendra Arts Centre in Jaipur.
Other Works from Charles Correa

  1. Mohandas K. Gandhi, Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Mahatma Gandhi
  2. Charles Correa by Kenneth Frampton