Chandigarh: The Latest Architecture and News
In 1950, the famous Le Corbusier was asked to design the new state capital of Chandigarh for Punjab following its separation and recent independence. The opportunity to create a new utopia was unparalleled- and is now seen as one of the greatest urban experiments in the history of planning and architecture. The city employed grid street patterns, European-style thoroughfares, and raw concrete buildings- the zenith of Corbusier’s ideals throughout his career. But what is lesser known about the ideation and realization of Chandigarh, was the woman who brought her experience of designing social housing across Africa to the project. For three years, working alongside Corbusier, and helping him design some of the best-known buildings in Chandigarh, was Jane Drew.
Architectural Photographer Edmund Sumner Takes Part in the Artist Support Pledge Initiative with Chandigarh Images
During the COVID-19 pandemic, due to the lack of exhibitions and commissions, artists around the world started to struggle. The Artist Support Pledge, an initiative born in March of 2020 in response to this global crisis, seeks to support creative individuals, including architectural photographers. Founded by artist Matthew Burrows, the global movement connects communities in order to ensure “an equitable and sustainable economy for artists and makers of all countries, media, and ethnicities”.
Through its urban planning and civic buildings, Chandigarh represents an iconic fragment of Modernist architecture. This economic and administrative centre was meant to showcase the progressiveness of the 1950s' newly independent India.
On August 15, 1947, on the eve of India’s independence from the United Kingdom, came a directive which would transform the subcontinent for the next six decades. In order to safeguard the country’s Muslim population from the Hindu majority, the departing colonial leaders set aside the northwestern and eastern portions of the territory for their use. Many of the approximately 100 million Muslims living scattered throughout India were given little more than 73 days to relocate to these territories, the modern-day nations of Pakistan and Bangladesh. As the borders for the new countries were drawn by Sir Cyril Radcliffe (an Englishman whose ignorance of Indian history and culture was perceived, by the colonial government, as an assurance of his impartiality), the state of Punjab was bisected between India and Pakistan, the latter of which retained ownership of the state capital of Lahore. It was in the wake of this loss that Punjab would found a new state capital: one which would not only serve the logistical requirements of the state, but make an unequivocal statement to the entire world that a new India—modernized, prosperous, and independent—had arrived.
Neelam Cinema is one of three theaters built in Chandigarh, a modernist city master-planned by Le Corbusier. Built shortly after India gained independence in the early 1950s, the cinema is located in the bustling industrial area of Sector 17. Designed by architect Aditya Prakash under the guidance of Le Corbusier and his cousin Pierre Jeanneret, the modernist structure stands to this day in its original form and continues to screen Bollywood films. However, without UNESCO World Heritage protection, the future of the cinema remains uncertain. Below, British photographer Edmund Sumner discusses his experience of shooting the 960-seat cinema, the heart of the city, and an icon of Chandigarh.
Paul Clemence of Archi-Photo shares rare images of the house of Pierre Jeanneret in Chandigarh. The photographer described the experience in an article published in Modern Magazine, which is republished below with permission.
Chandigarh, India’s modern planned city, is most commonly associated with the pioneering modernist master Le Corbusier, who conceived the radical urban plan and most of its important civic buildings. But credit is also due to the architect’s younger cousin and long-time collaborator, Pierre Jeanneret, who turned Le Corbusier’s sweeping vision into a reality. The cousins had worked extensively together, sharing a common, forward-thinking design sensibility. Appointed to senior architect, the Swiss-born Jeanneret oversaw the ambitious project on the ground and proved himself particularly skilled at connecting with the professionals and local community alike. “Effectively, he is respected like a father, liked as a brother by the fifty or so young men who have applied to work in the Architect’s Office,” wrote Corbusier in praise of his cousin.