The Capital Complex Chandigarh India a civic design 195362 still incomplete

Chandigarh, a new state capital, resulted from the partitioning of the state of Punjab partly into India and partly into Pakistan on independence in 1947. The Capital Complex stands outside the main body of the new city itself. Its site is approximately 400 metres north-south and 800 metres east-west in dimension. It was designed by Le Corbusier and superseded an earlier design by Mathew Nowicki who died in an aircraft accident in 1951. B. V. Doshi was the very young site architect. The government of India was the ultimate sponsor of the project while P. L. Varma, Chief Engineer of Punjab, and P. N. Thapar, the State Administrator, were the immediate clients. Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru also took a keen interest in the project as a symbol of the newly independent India. If Le Corbusier needed support when his ideas were in conflict with those of local officials, he turned to Nehru.

The Capital Complex as it now exists consists of three buildings and two sculptural structures (see Figure 7.8). Their arrangement stands in strong contrast to the colonial organization of the Capital Complex in New Delhi. The three major buildings: the Secretariat, the High Court and the Assembly building (legislature) are monuments to the democratic principles of the Indian constitution. The Assembly Hall and the Supreme Court are the most prominent facing each other across an extremely broad stretch of concrete paving (455 metres, about 1500 feet, in length, but seemingly farther on a summer day). This arrangement symbolizes the balance of power between the legislature and the courts. The Secretariat is to the rear and the Governor's palace - the Governor being representative of the central government - to the north. The latter building has never been built. Nehru rejected the idea of its location at the head of the complex as being undemocratic. It reminded him of the location of the Viceroy's palace in New Delhi. The alternative proposal was to have a museum there. It too has yet to be built.

The overall composition is based on two interlocking 400 metre squares. The eastern façade of the Secretariat bounds one edge of the western square and the Assembly Hall and the proposed museum are within it. The eastern square has the Assembly Hall, museum and the High Court within it. The composition also contains a series of gardens, courts, reflecting pools and monuments. The Tower of Shadows, the Monument to the Open Hand and the Pit of Reflection have been completed but other components remain unbuilt.

The largest of the buildings in the complex is the Secretariat located to the side and rear of the Assembly Hall and symbolically subservient to it. It has a north-south axis and defines the western edge of the site. The building itself is based on a grid pattern with small porches on its eastern and western façades. Freer forms break the grid pattern and the status of workers inside is shown on the façade by the size of units allocated to them. The roof of the building houses a seldom-used garden.

The Assembly Hall has a square plan with the hall itself, with seating for 250 legislators, being surrounded by ceremonial space and separate galleries for the press, and for men

Figure 7.8 The capital complex, Chandigarh. (a) Le Corbusier and B. V. Doshi in Paris, (b) the site plan, (c) a view of the capital complex in 1996 with the monument to the Open hand in the foreground and the Assembly Hall and the Secretariat to the rear and (d) the entrance to the Assembly Hall.

and for women. On three sides of the building are offices that are protected from the sun by a massive brise-soleil. A council chamber with seating for 70 has a pyramided ceiling. The great portico facing the Supreme Court has eight thin piers that support a troughed roof that spills rainwater into a reflecting pool in front of the building. The inspiration of the cooling towers of the power station outside Ahmedabad, is clear in the roof form.

The High Court is an L-shaped building housing the High Court Room and a number of smaller courtrooms equally expressed on the building's façade. A high portico faces the Assembly Hall. The three pylons of the portico that rise 18 metres (50 feet) from the ground symbolize the majesty of the law, the fear of the law and the shelter of the law. A double roof protects the whole building from the power of the summer sun.

The complex as an entity - buildings and landscape - is a powerful symbolic work of art by a single architect. In many ways it formed his international image as an architect ofnote.

It is a moving composition for many architects and a source of pride for the citizens of Chandigarh. The design illustrates Le Corbusier's exploration of geometrical, cos-mological, rural and vernacular themes. It is unambiguously a total, Modernist, urban design project. Few schemes are as clear in their intentions. It was entirely publicly funded. Whether or not so much money should have been spent on a single project is always a subject of debate especially in a country with meagre financial resources.

Major references

Bahga, Sarbijt, Surinder Bahga and Yashinder Bahga (1993). Capitol Complex, Chandigarh (1951-62). In Modern Architecture in India. Post-Independence Perspective. New Delhi: Galgotia, 24-7. Lang, Jon, Madhavi Desai and Miki Desai (1997). Architecture and Independence: The Search for Identity — India 1880 to 1980. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.

Nilsson, Sten Ake (1973). The New Capitals of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. London: Curzon Press.

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Homeowners Guide To Landscaping

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