6 Politically Motivated Cities Built From Scratch

Image of the planned new capital of Egypt, masterplanned by SOM. Image Courtesy of SOM

Threatening to end ’s 1,046 year dominance as the country’s capital, earlier this month the government of Egypt announced their intentions to create a new, yet-to-be-named capital city just east of New Cairo. The promise of the more than 270 square mile ‘new New Cairo’ has attracted headlines from around the world with its sheer scale; a $45 billion development of housing, shopping and landmarks designed to attract tourism from day one, including a theme park larger than Disneyland. And of course, the plans include the promise of homes – for at least 5 million residents in fact, with the vast number of schools, hospitals and religious and community buildings that a modern city requires – making the new capital of Egypt the largest in history.

The idea of building a new capital city has appealed to governments across history; a way to wipe the slate clean, stimulate the economy and lay out your vision of the world in stone, concrete and parkland. Even old Cairo was founded as a purpose built capital, although admittedly urban planning has changed a little since then. It continues to change today; see the full list of different ways to build a totally new city after the break.

Chandigarh Under Siege: Le Corbusier’s Capitol Complex Threatened by Housing Development

Chandigarh’s Palace of the Assembly in the foreground facing the High Court in the background. Image © Flickr CC user Eduardo Guiot

Dr. Vikramāditya Prakāsh is a professor at the University of Washington and the founder of the Chandigarh Urban Lab. In the following article he discusses the past, present and future of Le Corbusier’s vision for Chandigarh, explaining the reasons behind the petition he started against a new residential development to the North of the city.

Le Corbusier’s famous Capitol Complex in Chandigarh, India is about to be ruined by the construction of a gaggle of towers to its immediate north. The new project, called ‘TATA Camelot’, is being developed by TATA Housing, the real estate wing of TATA Group, a major multinational and one of ’s largest industrial companies. TATA Camelot’s 27 proposed towers, each between 13 and 36 storys tall, will not only destroy the architectural and urban design integrity of the Capitol, they will also disrupt the fragile Himalayan ecology of the area. In the contest between development and , it is the larger public good and the long term perspective of the ecological that must be prioritized.

AJA Restaurant / Arch.Lab

© Purnesh Dev Nikhanj

Architects: Arch.Lab
Location: Sector 11, Chandigarh, Chandigarh,
Design Team: Harsimran Singh, Mohit Vij, Taruni Aggarwal, Jasnam Kaur
Area: 900.0 ft2
Year: 2014
Photographs: Purnesh Dev Nikhanj

Video: JS Dorton Arena, the Fairground Pavilion That Was a Modernist Marvel

The JS Dorton Arena, originally designed as a livestock judging pavilion for the North Carolina fairgrounds, was a deliberate political statement for the North Carolina State University about the courage of progress and value of taking risks. The architect, Matthew Nowicki, imagined a symphonic spatial experience where design, material and construction are choreographed in a highly challenging and sweeping, ambitious vision. Foregoing interior columns, the building combines intersecting parabolic arches of reinforced concrete with a grid of draped tension cables inspired by the tension system of the Golden Gate Bridge to support the entire span of the roof – the first of its kind.

Twin Courtyard House / Charged Voids

© Aman Aggarwal & Purnesh Dev Nikhanj

Architects: Charged Voids - ar Aman Aggarwal 
Location: Chandigarh,
Project Team : Siddarth Gaind,Rahul Vig, Sugandha Wadhawan, Saurabh Vashist
Area: 500 sqm
Year: 2012
Photographs: Aman Aggarwal & Purnesh Dev Nikhanj

AD Classics: Chandigarh Secretariat / Le Corbusier

Photo by diametrik - http://www.flickr.com/photos/diametrik/

This AD Classic was done in collaboration with John Rizor.

Taking over from Albert Mayer, produced a plan for on the foothills of the Himalayas that conformed to the modern city planning principles of Congrès International d’Architecture Moderne (CIAM), in terms of division of urban function, an anthropomorphic plan form, and a hierarchy of road and pedestrian networks, Inherently, the Secretariat building is the largest edifice in the Capitol Complex and is the headquarters of both the Punjab and Haryana governments.

Le Corbusier’s plan for the capitol consisted of four buildings (or “edifices”) and six monuments arranged on a single site, loosely conceptualized as three interlocking squares. Only three of these four buildings were ever realized (the High Court, the Legislative Assembly, and the Secretariat) and were designed to represent the major functions of democracy — the fourth building, the Governor’s Palace, was never built.

More information after the break.

EXHIBITION: Le Corbusier & Pierre Jeanneret, Low Cost Furniture and Other Items from Chandigarh

Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret relaxing on the Shukna Lake on a pedal boat manufactured by Pierre Jeanneret, c. 1950. Photo by Sureh Sharma.

GENEVA–Galerie Anton Meier inaugurated the first in Switzerland devoted to the work  Pierre Jeanneret on September 20 at the Palais de l’Athénée. The exhibition, “The Chandigarh Project,” features a selection of furniture created for the Chandigarh capital complex on the border of Punjab and Haryana states in India. Intended to offer the public “clearer public insight into the humanistic work of Pierre Jeanneret, often overshadowed by his illustrious cousin, the show features pieces handcrafted on site for the new capital presented with “rare street furniture” as well as Le Corbusier’s symbols and prints. Highlights include teak tables, cane chairs, wooden armchairs, an a cast iron manhole cover with a recessed reproduction of the Chandigarh master plan as drawn by Le Corbusier in 1951. The exhibition comes after a scandal that erupted in 2010 when UBS decided to pull an ad featuring Corbusier. Debates continue involving the provenance of Chandigarh artifacts such as these, as dealers continue to buy items from Indian officials to resell abroad.

More information and photos after the break.

AD Classics: Expo ’58 + Philips Pavilion / Le Corbusier and Iannis Xenakis

© wikimedia commons / wouter hagens

In 1956, preparations had begun for the 1958 World’s Fair in Brussels. This was to be the first World’s Fair held since the end of World War II, the concept behind the Expo was to celebrate the rejuvenation of civilization from the destruction of war through the use of technology. This World Fair is best known for the musical advances that was combined with architecture, creating a gestalt through an experiential encounter where body meets sound and space.

   

AD Classics: Palace of the Assembly / Le Corbusier

© Nicholas Iyadurai

One of ‘s most prominent buildings from India, the Palace of the Assembly in boasts his major architectural philosophies and style. Le Corbusier‘s five points of architecture can be found within the design from its open plan to the view of the Himalayan landscape. The program features a circular assembly chamber, a forum for conversation and transactions, and stair-free circulation. More information and images of the Palace of the Assembly after the break.