The city of Chandigarh

The city of Chandigarh. Architecture of independence

A long time ago, in already quite forgotten times, such a huge country like India was a colony of another country, more powerful at that time. Times passed, large empires liberated their colonies, and now it was India's turn.

Object: the Architecture of the City of Chandigarh

Architect: Le Corbusier, P. Jeanneret and others.

Year Built: 1952-1955

Address: Punjab and Haryana, India

Official Website:

Despite all the devastation, financial and economic insufficiency, the country harshly and decisively needed a new city, a new center for two states. The solution to this problem was the idea of building a new city with a completely new architecture for India. This was truly the first experience in a new independent India in the implementation of independent urban development. The lack of a construction base and any means of mechanization did not bother Jawaharlal Nehru, the then prime minister of India, and the city was mostly built in just three years. Amazing pace.

City construction. Chandigarh Architecture

But the city decided to erect for no reason. Its very good location, located directly on the road to Tibet and Kashmir, created excellent prospects for further economic growth and evolution into the main commercial and industrial center of an extremely important region of the country. The same was true for plans to populate the city. In particular, it was planned that after the completion of the first stage of construction, the city will be inhabited by 150 thousand people, and already at the next stage of the economic development of the city a population of more than 500 thousand citizens was supposed.

The construction site for the city was a beautiful picturesque place near the Himalayas, in a successful agricultural valley between two rivers. It was decided to supplement the natural beauty of the landscape and the builders organized a dam, due to which a water reservoir formed, referred to only as a lake.

The first pilot project of the city was developed by the Pole Novitsky and the American architect Meyer. However, the tragic death of the Polish architect made adjustments to the architectural top of the project and the severity of the construction of the city passed to the maestro Le Corbusier. Side by side with the Frenchman, his cousin, his frequent assistant and colleague, P. Zhannere, as well as the British and a group of little-known Indian architects worked.

The legendary Frenchman brought into the project the main idea of the master plan of the city, its landscaping, the Assembly and Secretariat buildings, as well as other government buildings.

Individual forms, new solutions

As you know, Corbusier was an adherent of rationalism in architecture. That is why the internal layout of the city was strictly delimited by the designers zonally according to the type of functionality of one or another part. The administrative part of the city, including the government complex, was placed on a hill near the mountains, next to the lake. A training zone was supposed to adjoin it, among which were the park part, which included a sports and sports zone, as well as leisure centers. The area of factories and industrial and technical complexes was separated from the previous part by the so-called "green belt". This part of the forest park was designed to protect the population from harmful factory emissions as much as possible.

The cornerstone of the city’s transport system has been security. She formed the basis of the transport arteries of Chandigarh. This approach included seven different types of roads. A rectangular system of road directions literally divided the city into 30 small areas, with an approximate area of 1 square kilometer each. It was assumed that in each microdistrict will live from 5 thousand people.

The main avenue of the city leads to the government building and divides the city into two equilibrium parts. Despite the usual idea of a shopping center in each part of the quarter, as suggested in the project of the Pole Novitsky, Corbusier refused this in favor of the national Indian shopping arcade. For this, landscaped spaces were created, which helped recreate the “bazaar streets”.

Architects wanted to take into account not only the general needs of the population, but also its nationally stylistic features. Therefore, they tried to give each quarter and microdistrict their unique charm and style. Each quarter has its own layout, as well as individual forms of architecture. In this regard, the microdistricts that were designed by long-time partner Corbusier Pierre Jeanneret are especially indicative. He has the rationality of using each quarter literally taken to extremes, both socially and from a purely visual point of view. Each site has a unique personality and exclusive intimacy, but all this does not cancel the general integration of citizens into the life of the entire quarter.


However, despite all this idyll, something nevertheless remained unchanged: officials wished to place their own estates in the city center, including huge mansions with terraces. What is characteristic, the larger the official was, the more central was his villa. A sort of social ranking in the new India. Of course, Corbusier tried to counteract this, but the question was posed a bit: either such a project or you. The master made concessions to save already erected and yet planned grandiose buildings.

But such a ranking concerned not only officials and other elites of young independent India. The construction of Chandigarh implied the presence of a variety of levels of houses that would correspond to the different status of various groups of people. In total there were 16 such categories.

The lowest belonged to one-story simple houses with adjacent back yards with an outbuilding on the territory. Internally, these houses had two very small rooms and a kitchen, including a bathroom, of course.

The houses, as close as possible to the level of houses for the government, were huge two-story mansions with a large yard and garden.

A combination of Indian traditions and Western architecture. Chandigarh Architecture

Big problems brought the climate. In winter, the days were sunny and warm, but the nights were really cold. Summer, however, brought in simply burning heat, and the rains in July and August were so strong that at times it seemed that construction equipment would simply be washed away to hell. And of course dust. A lot of dust. The wind at any time of the year and day raised huge clouds of sand dust, from which there was no escape.

But the experience of the designers helped them adapt the buildings to the summer heat thanks to the traditions inherent in such a climate: closed courtyards, a flat roof and special jali lattices that covered the windows, creating a favorable shadow.

But the new wave in architecture here became the sun-cutters - special protrusions on the walls, located at such an angle to maintain the most comfortable temperature inside the building. The combination of the new and the old has become the main motive in the architecture and decor of the city, while forming a special plastic facade.

Since the financial situation of India at that time did not allow the use of reinforced concrete everywhere, builders had to look for the most suitable and compromise materials. The main material was burnt brick. It was cheap, economical and allowed to save cement. Cement went on the construction of houses for the top government. All reinforced concrete went there too.

It is impossible not to mention the merit of the Indian group of architects, which was engaged in the construction of school buildings. It uses the false arch method, created thanks to the brick lapping method. From simple cobblestones and pebbles, outdoor school classes were built. Literally in the open. The shadow from the ellipsoidal walls perfectly saved the students from the heat of the sun. Just amazing resourcefulness.

The festive flavor of the hotel for deputies, designed by Pierre Jeanneret, expresses the author’s addiction to abstractionism.

Perhaps the most original modern building in India is Gandhi Bhawan. This building, popularly speaking, “having three wings,” built of white stone, resembles a bird flying upward. The dynamics of a spiral-shaped volumetric-spatial composition is presented as an attempt to realize the image of Mahatma Gandhi through architecture: behind a plastic exterior wall is a complex and intricate labyrinth covered with art murals.

Well, to summarize, we can say that all this seemingly social utopia, which architects and city planners planned to build, can be said to have been a success. Now Chandigarh is the unconditional cultural and commercial center of the entire region. The number of permanent residents is now more than a million people, of which more than 70% are literate, which is absolutely fantastic for India. And now we can say with confidence that now Chandigarh is one of the most convenient and beautiful cities in India. All this he achieved primarily thanks to those who with soul and skill approached the construction of the city.


Post a Comment