Corbusier’s vision for Chandigarh: The genius & the flaws

Source: The post is based on the article “Corbusier’s vision for Chandigarh: The genius & the flaws” published in Indian Express on 12th January 2023

What is the News?

The Supreme Court has directed the Centre and the Chandigarh administration to take a number of steps to preserve Le Corbusier’s Chandigarh.

Who was Le Corbusier?

Le Corbusier was a Swiss-French architect, designer, painter, urban planner and one of the pioneers of what is now regarded as modern architecture. 

In 2016, seventeen projects by Le Corbusier in seven countries were inscribed in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites as The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier, an Outstanding Contribution to the Modern Movement. Chandigarh is one of the sites.

What are the key features of Le Corbusier Chandigarh Plan?

Corbusier’s plan would have a heart and a head, where the “head” would contain the Capital Complex and the “heart” the commercial area. 

The “hands” would host recreational spaces and academic institutions. His rectangular grid encouraged self-sufficient units, dividing the city into different sectors.

He planned for the city to be built in two phases, where Phase I would contain Sectors 1 to 30 for 150,000 people, while Sectors 31-47 would host a denser population of nearly half a million. 

To do this, locals were evicted and refugees shown the door. Records claim nearly 28,000 people had to leave the land. The government bought it all under the Land Acquisition Act of 1894, allowing the inhabitants to remain as tenants.

Why has Le Corbusier’s plan for Chandigarh been criticized?

Chandigarh became home to the wealthy and the government officials, the poor were excluded from Corbusier’s master plan. 

Critics also mention that besides segregating housing based on income, another flaw was that the wage earners’ location outside city limits made it tedious for them to access jobs. 

Hence, there is a saying that Chandigarh is a well-designed city, not a well-planned city.

 

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