le corbusier’s chandigarh listed as a UNESCO world heritage site

 

 

 

on the occasion of le corbusier’s ‘chandigarh‘ being listed as a UNESCO world heritage site, designboom republishes this original feature from march 20, 2012 when we visited the architect‘s ‘crowning work’ in india. having suffered from years of neglect and controversy, ‘chandigarh’, has now been recognized for its impact on the world.
le corbusier chandigarh india UNESCO designboom
the open hand monument by le corbusier
image courtesy of arjun goel and tawish taya

 

 

 

considered one of the greatest architects of the 20th century, le corbusier’s practice has demonstrated exceptional technical and conceptual changes in the modernist movement in the fields of architecture and urbanism; as evidenced through his exploration of form, constructive principles and models for living. his practice was very much focused on creating architecture that encompassed a range of programmes that served all types of people—bringing forth buildings and spaces that were profoundly universal. ‘chandigarh’ is one such example.

le corbusier chandigarh india UNESCO designboom

chandigarh sketch by le corbusier

 

 

 

designboom’s editor-in-chief birgit lohmann was invited to the first india design forum (IDF) held on march 9-10, 2012 in new delhi, where she presented designboom’s exclusive video ‘save chandigarh’. the three-part series documented during our trip to india features interviews with the 90-year-old manmohan nath sharma, the former chief architect of the city of chandigarh, who collaborated directly with le corbusier; and mrs. deepika gandhi, professor from the chandigarh college of architecture.

 

‘save chandigarh’ part 1 of 3
video © designboom

 

 

 

a group of local architects, art historians and officials are hoping to mobilize international help to prevent further damage to le corbusier’s unique indian legacy. designboom visited the former collaborator of le corbusier and, despite his deteriorating health, the 90-year old sharma speaks with us about his ‘master’ and the privilege of working together on a great piece of creative art. ‘this matter is being taken very lightly by the authorities so now we need international help,’- says M N sharma.


manmohan nath sharma and massimo mini, CEO of designboom
image © designboom


manmohan nath sharma shows us images of the secretariat building in chandigarh
image © designboom

 

‘save chandigarh’ – part 2 of 3
video © designboom

 

 

 

the movie concludes with comments by designer stefano giovannoni and architects rem koolhaas and doriana and massimiliano fuksas.

 

I think chardigarth shouldn’t be preserved as a monument , neither it has to be destroyed. it should be integrated inside an updated /inclusive/ vision of the “hybrid city”exactly the opposite of the /exclusive/ and totalitarian vision of L.C. the city is developing today/ including/ opposite polarities expressing our history and culture and making them interact. if speculation is not going to win, I think there could be a creative and clever way to start back from cardigarth to build new urban scenarios around it. an international competition could be the first step of this path.’ stefano giovannoni

 

 

‘chandigarh up for auction’ – part 3 of 3
video © designboom

 

 

 

le corbusier’s chandigarh is an architectural heritage of humanity and thus it should be preserved. starting from the rational urban planning: a grid that is able to expand itself, embracing the needs of an unpredictable future that, already in the early ’50s, believed in the possibility of the economic and social growth of the country. the famous government buildings, that now have become true icons of the modern movement, acting as the ‘head’ of this thinking organism. already created as continually evolving. ‘open to give, open to receive’. this is the meaning of the metal hand that, as a vision, welcomes who arrives to chandigarh, becoming the symbol of the city, that’s been a ‘pilgrimage center’ for years to whom is still able to fall in love with architecture. the only way of action is to start from the analysis of the existing condition, from the urban reality that developed spontaneously, showing  needs, tastes, attitudes, social contacts and often preserving traditions and habits. in a city there are not noble buildings and less noble ones, that’s the whole that constitutes a unique heritage. we must preserve the city-system that underlies the contemporary beauty of the city itself.’ doriana and massimiliano fuksas

le corbusier chandigarh india UNESCO designboom
the palace of assembly in chandigarh by le corbusier
image courtesy of arjun goel and tawish taya

 

 

 

the indian city of chandigarh is one of the world’s greatest architectural treasures. considered to be le corbusier’s ‘crowning work’ the city was built in a pivotal and exceptional moment in indian history. it is one of the world’s only examples of a city constructed entirely on a plan and realized on an empty site. 60 years ago, the city was to not only serve as an urban center but also to represent india as a liberated, democratic, and forward-looking state. chandigarh, le corbusier’s largest single project, is now a city of a quarter of a million people, and is coming under pressure with regards to maintenance, growth and further densification. on all scales – its architectural buildings and detailed furnishings by pierre jeanneret, over the years, have been suffering from neglect and controversy.  


the palace of assembly in chandigarh by le corbusier
image courtesy of arjun goel and tawish taya
le corbusier chandigarh india UNESCO designboom
impressions from chandigarh
image © designboom
le corbusier chandigarh india UNESCO designboom
modernist architecture is abundant in what is considered le corbusier’s ‘crowning work’ in india
image © designboom
le corbusier chandigarh india UNESCO designboom
public plaza
image © designboom
le corbusier chandigarh india UNESCO world heritage site designboom
city museum, chandigarh
image © designboom
le corbusier chandigarh india UNESCO world heritage site designboom
profile of the concrete mass that is the city museum
image © designboom
le corbusier chandigarh india UNESCO world heritage site designboom
city museum, chandigarh 
image © designboom
le corbusier chandigarh india UNESCO designboom
chandigarh government museum and art gallery
image © designboom
le corbusier chandigarh india UNESCO world heritage site designboom
image © designboom

 

 

 

to bring awareness to the current situation in chandigarh, designboom was asked to participate in a roundtable discussion, conducted by the historian aman nath, who is involved in the restoration of india’s unlisted architectural ruins, now run as the neemrana ‘non-hotel’ hotels, which have won awards from UNESCO. participating speakers were UK-based architecture critic justin mc guirk, journalist at the guardian newspaper, former editor of icon magazine and publishing director of the strelka institute for media, architecture and design in moscow; and nigerian architect kunle adeyemi, founder and principal of NLE, an amsterdam-based architecture and urbanism practice for developing cities. previously he joined the world renowned office for metropolitan architecture (OMA), where he worked closely with founder rem koolhaas. adeyemi is also a visiting lecturer appointed by the university of washington, seattle, teaching and researching ‘the modern city in the age of globalization’ in chandigarh.


justin mc guirk and kunle adeyemi discussing in the chandigarh session
image © designboom

 

 

india design forum – chandigarh discussion
video © designboom 


birgit lohmann, founder and editor-in-chief of designboom and aman nath in the chandigarh session at the first IDF india design forum in delhi
image © designboom

 

 

 

the old and the new can either be experienced in extreme juxtaposition or as independent parallel experiences. creating simultaneously an illusion of complete preservation and perpetual newness …’ – rem koolhaas


deepika gandhi, professor from the chandigarh college of architecture
image © designboom


speakers birgit lohmann, aman nath, kunle adeyemi and justin mc guirk in the chandigarh session at the first IDF india design forum in delhi
image © designboom

 

 


excerpts from the chandigarh session at the first IDF india design forum in delhi
video © designboom


designboom presents the video ‘save chandigarh’ at IDF india design forum 2012
image © designboom

 

 

 

in 2006, the ‘urban and architectural work of le corbusier in chandigarh’ was placed on UNESCO’s tentative list by the city’s tourism authority. before a proposal is elevated from tentative to official world heritage site nominee, the applicant must convincingly document the site’s cultural assets and a suitable plan for preservation. from local inspectors we were told that the indian government missed the deadline… 10 years later, ‘chandigarh’ has finally been recognized.

 


chandigarh sketch by le corbusier


chandigarh sketch by le corbusier

 


rajshree pathy, founder indian design forum (IDF)

 

 

the IDF has been organized by the colmbatore centre for contemporary art (CoCCA). it is the country’s first and most influential international design platform.

 

rajshree pathy, an indian entrepreneur and contemporary art collector, organised the event with her daughter, aishwarya pathy, through their south india-based coimbatore centre for contemporary art. IDF started with a design week (2-8 march 2012) which featured movie screenings, exhibitions and workshops around new delhi. the trail ended with a design forum, two days of talks by design virtuosos (march 9-10, 2012) at the le méridien hotel.

 

it brought together more than 700 indian designers, architects and students with renown international figures, such as paola antonelli (curator at MoMA) and lidewij edelkoort (trend forecaster and fashion expert) for a series of lectures and debates. ms pathy plans to host a second forum at the same time next year.

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  • Le corbusier probably gave a whole new way of living by a city planning. its still referred as a prototype. to keep it the way it was thought about, its high time to give this a thought. initiative has been taken !

    Ankit says:
  • Es muy importante divulgar la magnifica obra del Arquitecto Le Corbusier para que las personas amen el arte
    y eviten la perdida o deterioro de estas obras/edificios que son patrimonio de la humanidad y por tanto
    nos pertenecen

    Esther says:

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