UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE
ARCHITECTURAL WORK of LE CORBUSIER in
CHANDIGARH
TAKEO KAMIYA
Chandigarh
The capital of Punjab and Haryana
Inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2016
as the "Architectural Work of Le Corbusier,
an Outstanding Contribution to the Modern Movement"

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REGISTRATION to the UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE LIST

There occurred a novel case in the UNESCO's World Heritage Sites List that plural works of a single architect were registered together in one case. Its title is "The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier, an Outstanding Contribution to the Modern Movement". It includes 17 sites through 7 countries as mentioned below:

France 1. Maison La Roche - Janneret
   " 2. Cité Frugès, Pessac
   " 3. Villa Savoye, Poissy, Paris
   " 4. Immeuble à la porte Molitor
   " 5. Unité d'Habitation, Marseille
   " 6. Usine Claude et Duval, Saint-Dié
   " 7. Notre Dame du Haut Chapel, Ronchamp
   " 8. Cabanon de Le Corbusier, Cap-Martin
   " 9. Couvent Sainte-Marie de la Tourette
   " 10. Maison de la Culture, Firminy
Swiss 11. Petite maison au bord du lac Léman
   " 12. Immeuble Clarté, Geneva
Germany 13. Weissenhof-Siedlung Estate
Belgium 14. Maison Guiette, Antwerp
Argentine 15. Maison Curutchet, La Plata
India 16. Capitol Complex, Chandigarh
Japan 17. National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo

  
Villa Savoye and the Chapel at Ronchamp

There would be few people who can recall images of all the buildings from these names of Le Corbusierfs works, but given that such a registering manner to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites List is possible, it might also be possible for registration to UNESCO, a package of works of other single artists, such as eArchitectural Works of Frank Lloyd Wrightf, eSculptural Works of Auguste Rodin, or eUkiyo-e Works of Hiroshige Andof.

To the first place when France was preparing the application to register the works of Le Corbusier (1887 -1965) to UNESCO (a committee was established for that in 2004 based on Foundation Le Corbusier), it intended to make the list contain not only his most important works in France but also many that show his worksf diversity and development. So, it appealed even to other countries, which hold Le Corbusierfs work(s), to participate in the cooperative application. This is the beginning of an exception of a single registration including many countries.

Japan responded to the appeal and participated in 2007 with the National Museum of Western Art in Tokyo. Though India has ample works of Le Corbusier in Chandigarh and Ahmadabad, it decided at first to participate only with the works of Chandigarh as epublic buildingsf of Le Corbusier. Although India once withdrew their support, which was said because India had not yet established the organization to preserve modern cities, after much meandering India ultimately re-participated in 2014 with Chandigarh. Finally, this case was registered to UNESCO in 2016 with the above-named 17 assets through 7 countries.

This chapter treats Le Corbusierfs architectural works in Chandigarh, not only in the Capitol Complex but also in the city, even including some other related architectsf works.

  
Books on Chandigarh


"LE CORBUSIER" as the pseudonym

The name Le Corbusier is so extensively known in the world that even outsiders of art and culture have heard his name as one of the greatest of modern architects, and if you go to a nearby library you will find his own writings and many books on his life and work. A great number of books have been published even in Japan only. As it is so easy to know about Le Corbusier, this chapter omits his biography, introducing his works in Chandigarh based on the photographs I have took there and the drawings from his Oeuvre Complète. However, I am going to write here about my long-standing concern about his name.

  
Picasso, Le Corbusier, Nehru

Although I knew that eLe Corbusierf was his pseudonym, while his real name was Charles Edouard Jeanneret, I had been wondering why he had took such a mysterious name as his pseudonym, for eLef is a French definite article, corresponding to eThef in English. In English, there is hardly a personfs name that has had a definite article in front, so as in French. When a Japanese professor, who taught French in bygone days, first met the name Le Corbusier, he did not consider that a name of an architect but that of a construction company!

A custom of frequently putting definite articles on personsf names is seen in Arabic. For instance, the creator of the Ayyubid dynasty, Al-Malik al-Nasir Salah al-Din, known as Saladin by Europeans as the Sultan who repelled the crusaders, had as many as three definite articles eAlfs in his name. Historically noted persons seem to tend to have them, because when a common noun is converted to a proper noun by adding a definite article, it could become more symbolic.

Jean Jenger, once the chairman of Le Corbusier Foundation, wrote that Charles Edouard Jeanneret made his pseudonym Le Corbusier from one of his maternal ancestors, Le Corbezier who had lived in Belgium. Among his numerous ancestors, did he choose that name with a definite article to give a symbolic effect?
I have recently come to know that in France there are people with family names with definite articles, and the ancestors of almost all of them hailed from Brittany in France. Mr. La Roche, one of Le Corbusierfs patrons, with his house listed on top of Le Corbusierfs works this time in UNESCO, might have come from Brittany. As the word Roche (Rock in English) is a feminine noun, its definite article is also the feminine form eLaf. Since eCorbusierf, not ending with eef, is considered as a masculine noun, its definite article should be also masculine eLef.

In my view, Charles Edouard Jeanneret attiring himself in the symbolic pseudonym eLe Corbusierf in his thirties would have been a similar act to past Japanese artists or men of letters, such as the famous art historian, Kakuzo Okakura, who took the egagof (graceful appellation) eTenshinf, meaning Heavenfs Heart. Now, both Le Corbusier and Tenshin Okakura are never called by their banal real names.

PLANNIN of a NEW CITY, CHANDIGARH

  
Master plan by Albert Mayer & an early plan by Le Corbusier

India achieved its independence from the British Empire just 70 years ago, in the year 1947, in the occasion of which the Indian subcontinent was divided into two countries: India and Pakistan. It also caused the Punjab region to be divided into Punjab State in India and Punjab Province in Pakistan. Since its old capital Lahore, which had also been once the capital of Mughal Empire, was located in Pakistanfs Punjab, the large cities left in Indiafs Punjab were the four Amritsar, Jullundur (now Jalandhar), Ludhiana, and Ambala. However, these four cities respectively had some defects in becoming the state capital, such as being too near to the Pakistan border etc., so the idea to make a new capital in a new land surfaced.

In the following year, the first prime minister of the Republic of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, decided the construction of the new capital of Punjab, selecting the site based on the committeefs investigations of availability. As this site embraced several villages and a Hindu temple of Chandi (Moon Goddess), the forthcoming new city was designated as Chandigarh. Nehru said:

gThe site chosen is free from the existing encumbrances of old towns and old traditions. Let it be the first large expression of our creative genius flowering on our newly earned freedom.h

Although Nehru, who studied at Cambridge University in England, seems to have borne the concept of garden cities theorized by Ebenezer Howard, he entrusted the planning of the new city to an American planner-architect, Albert Mayer (1897-1981), as somewhat of a reaction against British architects who had designed most colonial buildings in India, the most representative of which was Edwin Lutyensf New Delhi.
As there were few Indian architects, having been few school of architecture in colonial India, Mayer would collaborate with the architect Matthew Nowicki (1910-50), who was recommended by Mayerfs friend, Clarence Stein.

Albert Mayer studied at Columbia University and MIT, made efforts to American housing in the early 20th century with Lewis Mumford and Henry Wright, and worked as a consultant of city-planning in Israel.
Matthew Nowicki was a promising Polish architect, teaching at the University of North Carolina, had experience in the reconstruction work of Warsaw after World War II, and was picked out as the chief architect of Chandigarh at the end of his thirties.

Mayer, acquainted with Nehru, was formally commissioned to make the city plan of Chandigarh by the government of Punjab at the end of 1949, in his early fifties. He positively relished the good opportunity to be able to plan a new city, and he produced the master plan of the city after five months.
However, Nowicki, during the return trip to America from India that summer, tragically involved in an airplane accident and abruptly died at the young age of forty. Having lost his reliable competent partner, Mayer was too deeply depressed to continue that project, and eventually stopped the work. (Later he would aid in the improvement of Delhi in response to Nehrufs request.)

  
Early Plan by Le Corbusier & later Map

Due to the sudden change of situation, some members of the Chandigarh committee of the Government of Punjab went to Europe shortly after in November to seek new suitable architects. The first candidate, Auguste Perret, was not able to leave France because of the reconstruction of the city of Le Havre (1945-64), which would be inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2005.
Thus, Swiss born French architect and the then standard-bearer of modernism, Le Corbusier, who had proposed many city-plans around the world (though un-materialized) and urban design theories, was chosen as the urban designer of Chandigarh.
It is also said that French Minister of Reconstruction and Urbanization, Claudius Petit, recommended Le Corbusier to the committee, while those who first suggested his name were the Maxwell Frys.

Le Corbusier, already 63 years old by this time, did not accept the residence for three years in India requested by the government of India, partly because of the probable Indian low fee, instead asking three collaborators to reside in India. One was his cousin-architect, Pierre Jeanneret (1896-1967), and the other two were the British architect couple, Edwin Maxwell Fry (1899-1987) and Jane Beverly Drew (1911-96).

Pierre Jeanneret was Swiss and graduated from Geneva School of Arts to become an architect, like Le Corbusier, who was also Swiss born (later naturalized in France), and graduated from a school of arts in La Chaux-de-Fonds, his native city. Though Pierre was nine years younger than his cousin, he worked as Le Corbusierfs partner in their cooperative office in Paris for 17 years. Therefore, among the eight volumes of the chronological eOeuvre Complètef the first four and a half volumes are books of their joint-named works.
As remarked above, Le Corbusierfs real name is Charles Edouard with the same family name as Pierre. It could have been a motive for Charles Edouardfs use of a pseudonym to avoid being confused with Pierre as Mr. Jeanneret in the same office.

Maxwell Fry, three years younger still than Pierre Jeanneret, was one of the pillars propelling Modernism on architecture in Britain, being on friendly terms with Le Corbusier through the CIAM (International Congress of Modern Architecture). Like Le Corbusier, he was also active in a variety of fields such as architecture, city-planning, painting, and poetry. He had been in Ghana, Africa, with his wife, Jane Drew as architects and planners for many projects.

ARCHITECTURAL FACILITIES in CHANDIGARH

Succeeding Mayerfs original concept for the Chandigarh plan, Le Corbusier modified various points and incorporated his own ideas on cityfs planning. Although it has been thought more often than not that he created his completely individual plan for Chandigarh, he actually succeeded the essence of Mayerfs plan partly because of time constraints, including the division of the city into sectors in a grid pattern, penetrating them with greenbelts, as well as carrying over the locations of commercial, industrial, and administration centers.

The largest change might have been in the making of the Capitol Complex, which bears the legislation, administration, and jurisdiction of the city, making it more monumental as the face of the city in the far northeast of the city. Since in that year, 1951 Le Corbusier published gThe Modulorh, the theoretical system of architectural scales based on the sizes of a human body, he could have also seen the form of the city like a human body. Jane Drew would liken Chandigarh to a human body afterward, calling the Capitol Complex eheadf, the city center eheartf, the industrial center earmf, the university area ebrainf, and so on.

Among the sectors of Chandigarh, the far northeastern one, which embraces the Capitol Complex, is referred to as Sector 1, from which to the southeast all sectors were numbered in regular order. On the southeastern side of Sector 1 was made into a large artificial lake, Sukhna, by the dedicated efforts of the chief engineer of Punjab State, P.L. Varma, who had taken part in the Chandigarh plan from the start, damming up a tributary of Sukhna River flowing from northeastern mountains. This lake has been greatly enriching the city life in Chandigarh.

Chandigarh   
The Capitol Complex and its plan

Le Corbusierfs keenest interest seems to have been to design a monumental Capitol Complex rather than planning the town itself for Indian inhabitants. Since Matthew Nowicki had not reached the phase of decisive building-design except for making some idea-sketches, Le Corbusier was able to design them without restraint.
The main buildings predetermined to be carried out by the state government from the outset were three: Secretariat, Parliament, and High Court. Designing these three large buildings, Le Corbusier also proposed and designed other facilities like Governorfs Palace, Governorfs Garden, and small monuments such as eOpen Handf, Tower of Shadow, and Martyrsf Memorial, though most of them were not executed in his life.

Among them, many people might wonder what the Governorfs Garden is, which was drawn in the plan of the Park of the Capitol by Le Corbusier, but he did not leave any concrete sketches for that. It can be said that his intention would have followed Edwin Lutyens who made the plan of New Delhi, designing the Viceroy's House (now Rashtrapati Bhavan), which is larger than the Versailles Palace, and constructing an extensive Mughal garden at its rear for the Governor-General of India (Viceroy).
Despite the limited period of entry during the year for citizens, this is an excellent well-designed modern Mughal garden (quartered garden), with which Le Corbusier looks to have been going to vie. If his garden had been actualized, it would have been very interesting as a rare kind of work in his career. And yet its size was nearly two-fold of that of New Delhi, that is too much out-of-scale for solely the governor of a local state. It is no wonder that the Government of Punjab neglected it.


The Mughal Garden by Lutyens, New Delhi
@ (From "Imperial Delhi", by Andreas Volwahsen, 2002)

The three collaborators (Jeanneret, Fry, and Drew) ran their own offices to supervise the construction work, and to design other facilities, in Chandigarh from 1951, Fry up to 1954, Drew up to 1956, and Jeanneret until 1965 (for 14 years!) when he went back to France due to illness and subsequent treatment. When Jeanneret died two years after his return, his ashes were brought to Chandigarh and scattered on Sukhna Lake, following the Indian custom.

They assembled young Indian architects for the Chandigarh Capital Project Team for detail design and supervision, serving also the function of architectural education. Needless to say, Le Corbusier came to Chandigarh every year, staying for about one month to check every design and construction, and also to respond to the questions by the design team.
Together with these activities in Chandigarh, the work and education in Ahmadabad by Balkrishna Doshi (1927- ), a competent Indian disciple of Le Corbusier, decided the main stream of modern architecture in India on the Corbusian style, similarly to Japan.

About 90 buildings designed on location by three architects, Pierre Jeanneret, Maxwell Fry, and Beverly Drew, were later compiled in a large book "Documenting Chandigarh, vol. 1" by the then assistant professor in the School of Architecture of Chandigarh, Kiran Joshi, and published in 1999 in Ahmadabad. It is an indispensable book for those who want to fully know not only Le Corbusierfs works but also the city-planning and modern architecture of Chandigarh.

"Documenting Chandigarh" vol.1

The design process and drawings of each building of Chandigarh by Le Corbusier himself were recorded in detail in his chronological gOeuvre Complèteh, from vol.5 to vol.8. As for the objective history of development of the plan and construction of Chandigarh, Ravi Kalia, professor of the City College of New York, wrote very minutely about this in his book "Chandigarh, The Making of an Indian City" in 1987.

EVALUATION of its CITY-PLANNING

The predetermined population of Chandigarh was 0.15 million for the initial stage and half a million at the final, but the city was later expanded to the southwest, adding two lines of sectors, having now reached to 0.75 million (1995). The planning of these housing sectors and designs of condominiums and apartments, schools, and other public buildings were the most important missions for the three resident architects on lacation.
As Le Corbusier passed away in 1965 and the other three have also died, this half centennial city is becoming a historical object of preservation as the best representation of a newly planned city in the 20th century.

Here I will quote the description about Chandigarh from my book gThe Guide to the Architecture of the Indian Subcontinent.h (1996, TOTO Publishing co.):

The city was originally divided into 47 sectors, on top of which was set the Capitol Complex as governmental facilities. From here a green belt park spreads to the south, penetrating the whole city, about the middle of which is Sector 17 allocated for the commercial district.

This extremely orderly designed city, with wide roads and spaciously set out edifices, was considered as an ideal city based on the egarden cityf doctrine, regarded as a bible for modernist architects around the world. In fact, the city of Chandigarh has become the symbol of youthful power of the newly reborn India and its people have been proud of this state-of-the-art city. The city became a tourist spot with long queues of people wanting to go up in elevators to the roof garden of the Secretariat.

Afterward however, as the political situation around Punjab State has been deteriorating, entrance to the buildings of the Capital Complex has been restricted. Moreover, it became to be written in travel guidebooks that Chandigarh is a failure of modernist city-planning.
The city is very different from traditional Indian towns, in which various elements are intermingled on a smaller scale, and estranged from the current social level of India. This richly made city looks deserted and lacking in animation, while on the southern side of the town are generated large slums in high density. There is no other place than this city that explicitly displays the Indian reality of physical economic differences.

Even though there are criticisms about the city-planning of Chandigarh, the architecture of Le Corbusier seems to fit into Indian sense. The gigantic concrete eaves, ebrise-soleilf (sunshade) on glass windows, and his dynamic form-compositions are compatible with the tradition of Indian architecture, and the buildings of the Capital Complex, along with their interior spaces, present a satisfying attractive picture.

The later built Government Museum is one in the series of eMuseums for Unlimited Growthf, following the plan and form of the Sanskar Kendra Museum in Ahmadabad and National Museum of Western Art in Tokyo. The buildings of Chandigarh University and the commercial zone were mainly designed by Pierre Jeanneret.

It was more than 20 years ago that I wrote this article. The guidebook in which was written efailuref was Lonely Planetfs gIndiah. eEstrangement from the current social level of Indiaf means that, for example, a transportation and road system mainly focusing on car traveling was planned, but actually, cars hardly run on the roads of Chandigarh and most people went by bicycle. Those who did not have had to walk long way along the broad asphalted roads under a blazing sun.

You might say that the case of Chandigarh could draw parallels to that of the first communist revolution, which did not occur in a mature European country but in the undeveloped country of Russia, therefore it failed. As a matter of course, India has greatly changed during the following 20 years, dissolving those estrangements.
However, because of such fixed evaluation the City Plan of Chandigarh by Le Corbusier was not highly estimated at the time of nomination as a candidate for a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and instead was eventually inscribed as the Architectural Work of Le Corbusier.

THE CAPITOL COMPLEX

  
Capitol complex

In the far north Sector 1 is the Capitol Complex. Though having unconsciously written efar northf, since the grid road pattern in Chandigarh leans about 45 degrees from the north-south axis, consequently making most buildings follow it, in fact Sector 1 is in the far northeast of the city. Its reason is that Albert Mayer did not set the city-axis in north-south but in nearly northeast-southwest after his minute examination of Chandigarhfs topographical condition and natural features, and Le Corbusier took over it.
However, whenever the city plan of Chandigarh is put in a book, it does not fit on a square page because of its rhombic shape, if the plan is laid out in the usual manner of treating maps with its north upward. So, the gOeuvre Complèteh, as well as any other books, lays out the Chandigarh plan with its grid pattern parallel to the book-page, resulting in readers unconsciously assuming that the upper part of the plan is the north.

What is eCapitolf? Ancient Rome was encircled with seven hills, the highest of which was Capitolino Hill, where important temples were constructed. Later in the Renaissance, Michelangelo designed the Piazza del Campidoglio (the Square of Capitoline) there in 1538. The Senatorio Palace in front of this trapezoidal square is the current city hall of Rome. This place has been the center of Rome, from which the political center of a country or a state or the parliament building came to be referred to as Capitol or Capital in English or French. The most renowned is the US Parliament building in Washington DC., the area around which is called Capitol Hill.

Le Corbusier also called the governmental facilities at the cephalic place of Chandigarh the Park of the Capitol or simply Capitol, seemingly following Albert Mayer and Matthew Nowicki, who had designated it as Capitol Complex, though Edwin Lutyens did not call the governmental area (including the Viceroyfs house) on Raisina Hill of New Delhi with that appellation.

As Sector 1 has no housing district, these governmental buildings stand at a long distance from each other in a vast plains-like area. Such a governmental center of a city can be seen only in modern planned cities like Chandigarh or Brasilia.
Imagining the area of Chandigarh as an open-air architectural museum, likening each edifice to a sculpture, since Le Corbusierfs buildings are all highly plastic and sculptural, this area with water ponds in various places appears to be a fascinating park.

When I visited this city for the first time more than 40 years ago, I was able to walk leisurely around this idyllic governmental park thanks to the then world situation, so to say, a time of fleeting peace in the world, settling down disputes in various parts of the world and suffering fewer terrorist incidents.
Subsequently however, many conflicts occurred in India like in not a few other countries, such as the fighting in Amritsar and Kashmir. The premises of the three main edifices in Sector 1 of Chandigarh, that is the Secretariat Building, Parliament Building, and High Court, have been fenced, and restricted zones for entrance and photography have much increased. The extent to look over the Capitol Complex has become narrower, also because trees have grown up.

SECRETARIAT BUILDING

  
The Secretariat Building and its roof garden

As long as one sees only photos in books without actually going to Chandigarhfs Capitol Park, one apt to judge the Secretariat building to be less important architecturally because of its form looking as a simple slab-type office building, in comparison with the daringly sculptural High Court and Parliament Building.
However, when going to the location, one would be overwhelmed by its powerful presence, gradually feeling it to be greater than the other two. At any rate it has a height of 35 meters and an amazing length of 250 meters! Moreover, its facade is designed in a dynamically sculptural feature using only concrete, full of contrast and variety, much more than the usual mediocre office buildings all over the world, which make their facade into a tedious homogeneous pattern.
Similarities can be drawn to another of Le Corbusierfs works, the Unité dfHabitation in Marseille, one of his UNESCO's World Heritage Sites listed this time. Le Corbusier was fundamentally a form-making artist.

As a matter of course, most parts of its facade are ebrise-soleilf (sunshade), which function to control the tropical weather in Chandigarh, but those made of concrete feel too heavy for travelers who come from industrial countries. In contrast to this, at Shri Aurobindo Ashram Dormitory in Pondicherry in south India, which was designed by Antonin Raymond 20 years earlier, much lighter movable ebrise-soleilf was created using asbestos.

The rooftop of this Secretariat building was an actualization of the second item of Le Corbusierfs 'les 5 points d'une architecture nouvelle', Roof Garden, though being a little too long and narrow, along with that at the Unite dfHabitation. It might be better to call it a ehanging garden' rather than a roof garden due to the insufficiency of greenery. In the aforementioned temporal peaceful epoch of 40 years ago, Indian tourists made long queues to take elevators going up to the hanging garden, where they exclaimed admiration at this rare experience in their life.
Since the entry to the building has been limited, the roof garden has been silent, as if being unable to believe the bygone liveliness, but one can still look down at the whole Capitol Complex from here.

PARLIAMENT BUILDING

In my student years, the Chandigarh project was proclaimed to be the bible of modern architecture and planning. The theories and methods of international architecture and functional city-planning that CIAM (Congrès International d'Architecture Moderne) advocated against the preceding architecture based on historical styles and city-planning depending on formal city-shapes and fine views were not given a stage for practice in Europe. The large-scale attainments as new cities of modernism were only Chandigarh in India and Brasilia in Brazil.
Therefore, what architects of that age looked at in those cities were the construction scenes of modernist cities and architecture that won the fight against European historicism, but not the propriety of relating to the climate and tradition of India or Brazil. Those were, so to say, ecities of victoryf of modernism in a way.

Incidentally, it is the Parliament Building that is located on the east of the Secretariat, being also a large edifice of a square of side 100 meters. The most conspicuous feature of it is the huge concrete structure independently standing on the side of the High Court, looking like huge eaves or a long umbrella, functioning as a kind of sunshade or shelter from the rain. The volume 6 of the chronological Oeuvre Complète shows that it had been much thinner and supported with fewer columns in its early stages, but in accordance with the progress of design and construction of the High Court and the Chapelle of Ronchamp, its design escalated into a huge independent roof structure.

  
The Parliament Building and its assembly hall

In this period, Le Corbusierfs main concern would have been to create monumental and sculptural works of architecture more than anything else. These rolled-up concrete eaves influenced the works of Japanese architects, especially Kunio Maekawa (1905-86, a disciple of Le Corbusier), who designed such rolled-up concrete eaves from early modest ones in the Kyoto Kaikan to a later colossal one in the Tokyo Metropolitan Festival Hall.
However, despite the general purpose of roof-eaves to quickly drive rains away, the rolled-up concrete eaves drew rains conversely toward the building, making the surface of the concrete eaves extremely dirty with the imprint of run-off rain water. The functionalism advocated by modern architects and artistic expression began to contradict each other.

  
The great portal and one of its painted panels

Another feature of the Parliament Building is its assembly hall, with a circular plan and wall of hyperbolic paraboloid, inserted inside the square building. Its novel-shaped upper half breaks through the roof to the sky and its top is cut aslant with fixed glass for lighting of the hall. This formation can be said to be much more developed than the Matthew Nowichifs former simple dome scheme.
This design might have been the contribution of a then staff architect, Iannis Xenakis (1922-2001), who was also a famous avant-garde composer and mathematician. The wall of this concrete shell structure is only 15 centimeters thick on average. Le Corbusier praised himself in his Oeuvre Complète for its (self-proclaimed) extremely low-cost design.

Unless during the session one can be guided inside by a member of staff, looking around the fantastic lobby and unique assembly hall with wall of hyperbolic paraboloid, but photography is prohibited.

SMALL MONUMENTS

Le Corbusier planned a larg, yet long and narrow sort of park on the east of the Parliament Building, at the far mountain-side place of which was to be built the governorfs palace, and in the city-side is a geometric hill. Between the two were posthumously constructed the eTower of Shadowf and the eMartyrs' Memorialf, though his intention for these facilities is rather difficult to grasp.
The Tower of Shadow is a concrete structure resembling an open-air jungle-gym of a colossal size, open to the north and encircled with brise-soleil on the other three sides. It seems to function to provide shade to pedestrians in the vast Capitol Park, although its external appearance is not so attractive.

  
The Tower of Shadow and Martyrs' Memorial

The Martyrs' Memorial does not look monumental enough, only letting one go down the spiral ramp to the small central sunken square where there is nothing. It seems to desire furnishing with a sculpture or something like that. Even with the martyrs being not clear, it reminds me of the people who fought against the Indian army (commanded by the then prime minister Indira Gandhi) to the death in gunfighting in the premises of the Golden Temple in Amritsal, for the sake of achieving the independence of Punjab from India, though in failure. However, the memorial monument of such insurgent people could not have occupied a place in the park of Capitol of the state government.
Apart from that, we can see how deeply Le Corbusier was fond of ramps since the house of La Roche. He made ramps in his many works, especially in India, giving them important roles for both architectural form and space.

To the east of this memorial is eLa Main Ouvertef (Open Hand), which is familiar to Corbusians. Consulting his Oeuvre Complète, we know that he left many sketches of Open Hands, seeming to intend to make it the symbol of Chandigarh, despite not writing distinctly about its meaning. He only said that the image spontaneously occurred in his mind on one occasion in Paris, and he had cultivated that image for a long time, sometimes creating paintings or sculptures based on that. The largest one was erected in 1986 in Chandigarh by contributions called for around the world at the suggestion of an Indian architect for the 20th year after Le Corbusierfs passing away.

When the English edition of my book gThe Guide to the Architecture of the Indian Subcontinenth (1996, Toto Shuppan Co.) was published in India, I was invited to its press release. I went to India to attend the release and lectured at various places on the occasion. I was especially welcomed by the Chandigarh-Punjab Chapter of the Indian Institute of Architects, and was presented a commendation plaque, a shield that was a 1/100 scale replica of the Open Hand, which is the symbol of the Chandigarh Chapter, and a book of Le Corbusier that had been published long ago by the government of Punjab.

         
The "Open Hand" Monument and a commendation shield


HIGH COURT

Despite being located at the southeast end of the Capitol Complex, the High Court was in fact first designed, constructed, and completed in 1956. It seems to be the edifice that pleased Le Corbusier more than any other in Chandigarh in terms of architectural form and composition. The building reminds us of the Chapelle of Ronchamp, which was designed almost in the same period. The sculptural expression of the chapel, inspired by freewheeling shapes of African mosques, probably had a back and forth influence with the High Court in their respective design process.

The most conspicuous element is its great concrete roof like a long continuous umbrella designed to cope with tropical weather. It was expected to cut off the invasion of solar heat, but it is not clear how cost effective it was to set that roof, for it is not negligible that an umbrella made of concrete, which has a high thermal capacity, radiates heat downward.
Though his early studies of this building show that its facade had a line of small arches in relation to the continuous arches of the roof, it came to be composed of brise-soleil like other buildings. The fine view of the High Court reflecting its figure on its front pond looks like a piece of classical architecture. Above all, its floating roof, the end of which draws a straight line, engenders deep shade spaces underneath with quite a formative effect. It reminds me of the double domed roof of the Taj Mahal, which also favors formative over functional, testifying the continuity of the tradition of sculptural character of Indian architecture, especially in Hindu temples.

Evening sight of the High Court

Like at the Secretariat Building, this facade does not simply arrange brise-soleil homogeneously, but punctuates it asymmetrically, with three wall-pillars standing in between effectively, on the rear of which is an open eramp shaftf, producing a varied half exterior space. Going up and down this shaft, one can experience this space as if suspended midair, looking towards the Parliament House and the Secretariat building in the distance.

The buildings of the Capitol Complex are fundamentally made of undressed concrete (béton brut) inside and outside, so it was too noisy in the courts due to the reverberating sounds, disturbing the proceeding trials. Le Corbusier therefore, had tapestries made for sound absorption and hung them over each courtfs wall. All of them were weaved based on his drawings in 1955 and 1956 at studios in Kashmir. They amounted to 650 square meters in total.
Lacking in those tapestries are the powerful impressions as of those in the great door of the Parliament Building, which may derive from the restrictions coming from the difference between the enamel-encaustic and textile. In the courtrooms though, too brilliant a tapestry might have been offensive to the eye. Le Corbusierfs tapestries also embellish the lobby of the Parliament.

  
Rear side of the High Court and its Lobby

This large building of the High Court has only one great court, yet it is 12 meters by 15, and eight small courts, so another building including many courtrooms was built late on its east, connecting with the main building. It looks like completely heterogeneous design, in spite of being said to have been based on Le Corbusierfs scheme.

ROCK GARDEN and LAKE CLUB

As stated above, all buildings of the Capitol Complex are fundamentally composed with right-angle geometry, except for some curved lines like rolled-up concrete eaves or a floating roof over continuous arches, as does the city plan of Chandigarh. There are people who cannot endure such a geometrical environment. As if representing those feelings, a freewheeling sculpture garden, the eRock Gardenf, came on the stage in 1976 as a counterbalance to Le Corbusierfs functional and geometric city.

Its creator, Neck Chand (1924-2015) was not a professional sculptor but a roads inspector for the Public Works Department, but he assembled scrapped materials in the city to build, step by step, numerous sculptures. Such creative amateur work is similar to the postman Ferdinand Chevalfs ePalais Idealf (1879-1924) in France and the tile-mason Simon Rodiafs eWatts Towersf (1921-54) in the U.S.A., yet Neck Chand developed a much more extensive site than the others.
Digging holes and making podiums without destroying the original undulating ground, he set his sculptures there with various architectural manipulations, creating sequences full of surprise.

  
The Rock Garden and Lake Club

When going further to the southeast from Sector 1, one gets to Le Corbusierfs small yacht club building locating in front of the artificial lake, Sukhna, named Lake Club. It was built in 1964, a year before his death. Its courtyard is surrounded with orderly concrete frames, in which is inserted a free contoured restaurant. Now the club has been much extended.

BUILDINGS in OTHER SECTORS

In the city, Sector 10 embraces cultural facilities, which include Le Corbusierfs Art School, Government Museum and Exhibition Pavilion, and Shivdatt Sharmafs Museum of Science/Evolution of Life, in a line along a district road. The Government Museum is a piece of a trilogy in the concept of the eMuseum for Unlimited Growthf along with the Sanskar Kendra Museum in Ahmadabad and The National Museum of Western Art in Tokyo. Its interior atmosphere also resembles the other two.

  
The Government Museum and Exhibition Pavilion

Based on the idea that Chandigarh is a city of modern art, apart from the university, the College of Art and College of Architecture were independently established from early on, following the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Both schools were designed in almost the same form by Le Corbusier, yet the College of Architecture is not located here but on the campus of Punjab University to the west.

  
The College of Art and College of Architecture

Sector 17, diagonally opposite the cultural zone, is the eCity Centerf embracing the market zone (shopping and commercial area), and its neighbor on the south is the central bus terminal. All the market buildings have the same rude concrete columns and balconies continuously and rather tediously. It seems to need somewhat more attractive edifices.

  
The Central State Library and Market Area

For example, at the center of Sector 22 is a movie theater designed by Maxwell Fry, Cinema Kiran, which has become the symbol of the sector, a simple but captivating piece of modern architecture.


Cinema Kiran designed by Maxwell Fry

In the extreme west of the city is the campus of Punjab University, one of the top-level universities in India, ranking with Delhi University and the like. The College of Architecture is in Sector 12 of its premises, and in Sector 14 are the Gandhi Bhawan (memorial hall for Gandhian philosophy) designed by Pierre Jeanneret and the Student Centre by B.P. Mathur, and Sector 11 has many college buildings, such as the College for Men by Maxwell Fry.
The most conspicuous architectural work is the small-scale Gandhi Bhawan, which, reflecting its unfettered shape on the front pond, creates a peaceful tranquility. Its neighbor is the University Museum, and the next is Pierre Jeanneretfs College for Arts.

  
The Student Centre and Gandhi Bhawan of Panjab University

In around 1965 when the construction of Chandigarh was nearly completed, criticism of Modernism was rising in young generation, against its uniformity, tedium, severance from tradition, and so on. Although the nomenclature of those kinds of movements as ePost Modernismf would be much later, Chandigarh could be said to be certainly a non-Indian city cut off from tradition, just like the colonial city of Goa.
However, both the planning side and receptive side of this city did not desire an absolute eIndian cityf to be actualized. In Japan, since no one had knowledge of the tradition of Indian architecture and urbanism, the praise and censure of Chandigarh were thoroughly those of Modernism.

SQUATTERS outside the PLANNED CITY

Finally, in order to know the reality of Indian cities comprehensively, it is advisable to pay attention to the squatters that extend on both sides of the approaching road from Delhi, just before entering the city of Chandigarh. These are unlawfully occupied housing areas, self-constructed of earth and scrapped material, for the low-income people who cannot live in the planned city. The majority of rickshaw-wallahs would be living here with their families. People who live in the spacious garden city are mainly wealthy class citizens and government officials. Such a strong gap between the living environments is not only an administrative problem in Chandigarh but also that which overall India embraces, and it appears in its sharpest form here.

  
Squatters spread in the suburbs of Chandigarh

The citizens in the city are still proud of this city, though not as deeply as the erstwhile boastful conscious to be residing in the state-of-the art city in the world, while the low-income people living in the squatters outside the city would have another feeling of alienation. It is certain that Le Corbusier, who immutably applied the method of city-planning in Europe to India, was not the kind of architect as Egyptian Hassan Fathy, who advocated and practiced eArchitecture for the Poorf, the title of the book he wrote.




MUSEUM for UNLIMITED GROWTH

The Government Museum of Chandigarh

"The Architectural Work of Le Corbusierh (17 works in 7 countries), in the UNESCO's World Heritage Sites List, includes the National Museum of Western Art in Tokyo, which was designed based on the concept of the 'Museum for Unlimited Growth' along with the Government Museum of Chandigarh and the Sanskar Kendra Museum in Ahmadabad, which was the first built among the three. I will concisely explain here this concept Le Corbusier created.

Although the start of the 'museum for unlimited growth' is often said to have been the megalomaniac scheme of the pyramidal eMuseum for the World Cognitionf in the project of the eMundaneumf (the central facility of a kind of United Nations) by Le Corbusier in 1928, this is a sharply different concept, which gives an impression of a squared eTower of Babelf, painted by Pieter Brueghel, without being based on the theme of egrowthf.

The concept of going up first to the top by elevator or a flight of stairs, and then going down the spiral exhibition rooms is rather close to the case of the later Guggenheim Museum in New York, and its pyramidal figure is monumental, far from eno facadef.
It is possible that Le Corbusier got the idea of its form from ancient Ziggurats (stepped pyramids) in Mesopotamia. It is interesting to compare the plan of the Museum of World Cognition of the Mundaneum to the restoration plan of the Observatory at Khorsabad, Iran, as a Ziggurat, which is inserted in James Fergussonfs gA History of Architctureh.


Left: Roof plan of the Musée Mondial in the Mundaneum Project
(From "Le Corbusier, Oeuvre Complète 1910 -1929", Zurich)
Right: Plan of the Observatory at Khorsabad
(From "A History of Architecture" vol.1, James Fergusson, 1893, London)
Both are Pyramids (Ziggurats) of a spiral form.

The archetype of the eMuseum for Unlimited Growthf was the Contemporary Art Museum in Paris, which was a proposition in the form of an epistle to Christian Zervos, the editor of gCahiers dfArth in 1931, published in Le Corbusierfs chronological gOeuvre Complèteh vol.2 (1929-1934), Zurich.
It is not a proposition of an arbitrary ebuildingf termed museum, but that of a method in order to actualize a museum, imitating an organic growth in the natural world.

Even if there is not enough of a budget in the beginning, one can start with a minimum portion of the building in a field in the suburbs of Paris, successively enlarging it in a spiral order, gradually toward a full-scale museum. One does not care about its temporal figure in the process, having no facade or an invisible facade. How drastic a proposition it is!
The essence of the scheme is that visitors go through an underground passage from the main gate to the center of the museum, and then tour the exhibition rooms, which have been erected with minimal costs and are spirally extendable, and a donor of paintings also sponsor the construction of the room (!), being able to leave his or her name.

Musée d'Art Contemporain
Plan of the amply grown Museum and its Birdfs-eye view
(From "Le Corbusier, Oeuvre Complète 1929-1934", Zurich)

The term eMusée à Croissance Illimitéef (Museum for Unlimited Growth) first came on the stage for eUn Centre d'Esthétique Contemporaine à Parisf (Contemporary Art Center in Paris), as eProject Ce for the International Exhibition in Paris in 1937, which was published in his hOeuvre Complèteh vol.3 (1934-38). In that project he abandoned the approach through an underground passage and instead let visitors normally go to the central hall from the entrance. All exhibition rooms were lifted upstairs, letting visitors go up from the central hall to the 2nd floor through a U-turn ramp, and spirally tour the rooms that were extendable yet still spiraling.

"Un Centre d'Esthétique Contemporaine" à Paris
for eProject Ce in the International Exhibition in Paris, 1937
(From "Le Corbusier, Oeuvre Complète 1934-38", Zurich)

It was in 1939 that Le Corbusier drew up a still clearer project entitled the eMuseum for Unlimited Growthf, which was published in his gOeuvre Complèteh vol.4 (1938-46) with an explanation about its principle and photographs of its model. It was to be constructed in Philippeville in Algeria but was not materialized.
In current Skikda, having been called Philppeville (the town of Louis Philippe) in colonial times, Le Corbusier designed the town hall (1932) and the central railway station (1937) in collaboration with Charles de Montalant, though not in a modern style but in a traditional style. He might have proposed the museum to the government in relation with those edifices.

"Musée a Croissance Illimitée" pour la ville de Philippeville
schematic drawings of spiral growth like a conch
(From "Le Corbusier, Oeuvre Complète 1938-46", Zurich)

@ The Museum of Philippeville was lifted on ePilotif (pillars), and visitors go up through a ramp from the central hall to the upstairs spirally arranged exhibition rooms, almost the same composition and form with the later three emuseums for unlimited growthf. As he left its well-made model, he must have elaborated its design.
However, even when it is really extended, it might be by only one or two circles of the spiral at most, therefore the term eunlimitedf is Le Corbusierfs journalistic exaggerated catchphrase. I think it might be better to call it simply egrowing museumf or eextendable museumf.

Museum scheme for Philippeville, Algeria, 1939

While this Museum for Philippeville was not built, eventually the next three extendable museums have been actualized: in Ahmadabad, Tokyo, and Chandigarh.

Sanskar Kendra Museum in Ahmadabad, 1957

The reason for the facades of these museums not being formative and lacking plasticity as Le Corbusierfs works is his intent to make eno facadef since those front walls would be concealed by new exhibition rooms and become simple partitions when the museums would be spirally extended.

National Museum of Western Art in Tokyo, 1959


Government Museum of Chandigarh, 1968

As the National Museum of Western Art in Tokyo had been cramped, a new wing was erected in 1979 to augment exhibition space, but it was not the spiral extension but an independent annex in the rear, northern side. The museum has not yet grown spirally even up to now, which indicates the complete denial of the idea of eMuseum for Unlimited Growthf by Le Corbusier as the architect, that is, the recognition of this museum as a cardinal failure.

It is quite strange to inscribe this museum in such a state to the UNESCO World Heritage List as a piece of eLe Corbusierfs Architectural Workf. Were the purpose of the organization and people, who had carried on the campaign for its registration, not to honor the spirit and art of Le Corbusier but merely inscribe it to the celebrated UNESCO World Heritage List to augment revenue from tourism?

Heaps of earth with trees planted upon them seem excessive in the front garden. It should be recovered to its original square-like state, as inscribed to UNESCO as an architectural work of Le Corbusier. It is also better to move the museum shop to the annex or underground hall.

( 2017/ 08 /01)


Aout the works of modern architects in India, see the page
"Encounters with Modernism" in this web site.


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© Takeo Kamiya
E-mail to: kamiya@t.email.ne.jp