Chandigarh: The Latest Architecture and News
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.
The Getty Conservation Institute has announced a workshop to address the care and conservation of three museums designed by Le Corbusier. The three museums are the only museums designed by the prolific architect. The workshop will be held in India, where two of the three museums are, with municipal corporations from Ahmedabad and Chandigarh serving as hosts for the event. The Foundation Le Corbusier, located in Paris, will also be assisting with the workshop.
Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret built sublime works amidst the unique landscape of Chandigarh, at the foothills of the Himalayas. They gave the city a new order, creating new axises, new perspectives and new landmarks. Built in the 1950s and early 1960s, the buildings form one of the most significant architectural complexes of the 20th century, offering a unique experience for visitors.
Architect and photographer Fernanda Antonio has shared photos with us from her journey throughout the city, capturing eight buildings and monuments, with special attention given to Le Corbusier’s Capital Complex. View all of the images after the break.
Online international competition organizer archasm has launched its “Chandigarh Unbuilt: Completing the Capitol” ideas competition, which seeks designs to finalize and complement Le Corbusier’s Capitol Complex in Chandigarh, India.
Three buildings at the complex have been built according to Le Corbusier’s plans—the Secretariat, Assembly Hall, and High Court—but the fourth and final building, called the Museum of Knowledge, has yet to be conceptualized.