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.
Chandigarh: The Latest Architecture and News
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.
Threatening to end Cairo’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 planned city 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.
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 India'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 preservation, it is the larger public good and the long term perspective of the ecological that must be prioritized.
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.
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.
One of Le Corbusier's most prominent buildings from India, the Palace of the Assembly in Chandigarh 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.