‘Chandigarh’ & Le Corbusier’s architecture …

Posted on February 20, 2008. Filed under: Personalities, The French Contribution |

Albert Mayer and Matthew Nowicki were the original choices for designing Chandigarh. After the death of the latter and the pull out of the former, Corbusier was given charge. The basic framework of the master plan and its components – the Capitol, City Center, University, Industrial area, linear parkland and even the neighborhood unit – was retained as the basic module of planning.

However, the curving outline of Mayer and Nowicki was reorganized into a mesh of rectangles, and the buildings were characterized by an ‘honesty of materials’. Exposed brick and boulder stone masonry in its rough form produced unfinished concrete surfaces, in geometrical structures. This became the architectural form characteristic of Chandigarh, set amidst landscaped gardens and parks.

The city plan is a grid pattern with the city divided into rectangular patterns, forming identical looking sectors. The rectangular sector measures 800 m x 1200 m. The sectors act as self-sufficient neighbourhoods, each with its own market, places of worship, schools – all within 10 minutes walking distance from within the sector.

The numbering of the Sectors is also a wee unique – meaning that if the Sector Nos of any two Sectors, lying North South of one another, are added up then the sum is divisible by the number 13. For example, Sectors 11 and 15 are located North South of one another. Now adding of their Nos gives 26. And this is divisible by 13. Its true of all Sectors.

The original two phases of the plan delineated sectors from 1 to 47, with the exception of 13. The Assembly, the secretariat and the high court are the three monumental buildings designed by Le Corbusier in which he showcased his style to the maximum.

An interesting aside is that any addition of North/South Sector Nos results in a sum that is always divisible by the No 13.

The city was to be surrounded by a 16 kilometer wide greenbelt to ensure that no development could take place in the immediate vicinity of the town, thus checking suburbs and urban sprawl.

Le Corbusier, chosen name of Charles-Edouard Jeanneret-Gris,(1887 – 1965). Swiss-born architect, designer, urbanist, writer and painter who became a French Citizen. Famed for his contributions to Modern Architecture, dedicated to providing better living conditions for residents of crowded cities. His iconic buildings live on in central Europe, India, Russia, and Nortt/South America. Was also urban planner, painter, sculptor, writer, furniture designer. Laid out Chandigarh, the planned city.

His Views as architect are given below –

The home should be the treasure chest of living.  Space and light and order. Those are the things that men need just as much as they need bread or a place to sleep.

Modern life demands, and is waiting for, a new kind of plan, both for the house and the city. I prefer drawing to talking. Drawing is faster, and leaves less room for lies.


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