Contemporary architecture of India – Chandigarh City Planning – Le corbusier

Posted: June 16, 2011 in Contemporary Architecture
Tags: , , , , , , ,

About le Corbusier:

  • Charles Edouard Jeanerette now popularly known as le Corbusier
  • Born on 6th of October’ 1887 at la Chaux de fonds in Swissjura mountains 4 kms from French border
  • He started working under contractor Perret, le Corbusier’s so called master
  • He as a child prepared himself for a manual occupation
  • He left his school at the age of 13½ yrs
  • Joined an art school later

An introduction to Chandigarh:

  • Since Punjab was divided into two parts, the capital was left in Pakistan therefore Punjab in India required new capital
  • Le Corbusier was approached by Punjab government and the prime minister of India
  • Chandigarh is a bold experiment in modern civic design
  • Chandigarh has provoked fresh thinking and in fact shown new way of life
  • Maxwell fry, Jane drew and Pierre Jeanerette were also involved in the team of architects
  • When le Corbusier assumed control of the Chandigarh project in 1951, however the design of the city had already been devised by the New York firm of Mayer, whittles, and glass who received a contract for the master plan  of Chandigarh in 1950

Albert mayer the master plan:

  • Mayer was the first one to get the Chandigarh project
  • Matthew Nowicki was invited to join the staff assembled to plan Chandigarh. His duties were to take the form of architectural control.
  • Mayer stated that he was trying to create something “that really applies to what we have talked about much but which has been at best done in a limited way in Radbubn, the greenbelt towns and baldwin hills.
  • The basic aim, stated Mayer, was a beautiful city.
  • The master plan which Albert Mayer produced for Chandigarh assumes a fan-shaped outline, spreading gently to fill the file the site between the two river beds.
  • The provincial govt. Buildings are located the upper edge of the city within a fork in one of the rivers, while the central business district occupies an area near the center. a curving network of main roads surrounds the residential superblocks, each of which contains a central area of parkland.
  • Two larger parks may be seen stretching through the city.
  • The flatness of the site allowed almost complete freedom in creating street layout and it is of interest to note that the overall pattern deliberately avoids a geometric grid in favor of a loosely curving system.
  • The death of Nowicki necessitated the selection of a new architect for Chandigarh.
  • It was the minister of planning who suggested le-Corbusier and who also recommended the inclusion of Pierre Jeanerette whom he termed a’’ good detail man.’’

Master plan

  • In 1951 it was given to le Corbusier
  • In Chandigarh le Corbusier system of self supporting neighborhood unit known as a sector  has worked very well
  • Sector which is introverted in character communicates only at 4 junctions with the adjoining neighborhood units
  • All the houses open up inside
  • Grid planning is done
  • Chandigarh planning was done in an manner that everything was easily clear about the routes and sectors
  • 7 v’s road system is used
  • The roads are classified as v1 ,v2 ,v3………V7
  • V1 connects Chandigarh to other cities

Plan of the city

  • V2 are the major avenues of the city e.g.  Madhya marg etc
  • V3 are the corridors streets for vehicular traffic only
  • V4…..v7 are the roads within the sectors
  • Chandigarh has been planned on the scientific principles and to apprise the coming generation of these principles
  • The main feature of this edict are  its-
    • Human scale
    • Self sufficient sectors
    • Roads system
    • Areas of special interest
    • Architectural control

Three disciplines

  • The discipline of money
  • Le Corbusier once remarked that India has the treasures of a proud culture, but her coffers are empty.” And throughout the project the desire for grandness was hampered by the need for strict economy.
  • In working up his designs, le Corbusier consulted the program for each building as given in the budget and then prepared the initial project.
  • The discipline of technology
  • Available in quantity, however, was good clay stone and sand, and, above all human labor.
  • The materials of which Chandigarh has been constructed are rough concrete in the capitol complex and the central business district and for most of the city, especially in housing, locally produced brick.
  • The discipline of climate
  • Besides the administrative and financial regulations there was a law of the sun in India.
  • The architectural problem consists; first to make shade, second to make a current of air[to ventilate],third to control hydraulics.

The sector

  • Taking Chandigarh as an example, we may see at once the democratic idea which allows us to devote an equal care to housing all classes of society to seek new social groupings, new patterns of education and public welfare, and made more possible by practical application of the scientific idea which through industrialism, gives us such benefits as piped water, electricity and cheap transport.
  • Each sector is designated by number, the capital complex being number 1,with the remaining sectors numbered consecutively beginning at the north corner of the city.
  • At present there are 30 sectors in Chandigarh, of which 24 are residential.
  • The sectors at the upper edge of the city are of abbreviated size.
  • In all type of housing ,partly because of the glazing expense, partly to keep out sun.
  • As the most economical and readily available material for building at Chandigarh was locally made brick.
  • This became the material of construction.
  • The flat roof was employed throughout in Chandigarh housing because of its usefulness as a sleeping area
  • 70% of the building would be private in all the sectors.
  • Residential lots ranging in dimensions from 75 sq. Yards to 5000 sq yards.
  • This is because the capitol complex is contained within the boundaries of sector 3 extended to its full dimensions.

Government housing

  • Le-Corbusier was responsible for the general outlines of the master plan and the creation of the monumental buildings, while Pierre Jeanerette, Maxwell fry and Jane drew were charged with the task of developing the neighborhood sectors with their schools, shopping bazaars, and the tracts of government housing.
  • In the program presented to the architects,13 categories of houses were specified, each corresponding to a level of government employment.
  • Small windows openings have been consistently employed
  • Chandigarh but is spread over an area of 114sq kms including Manimajra and Burail
  • The birth of Chandigarh has not influenced only the north west region but the whole country in the matters of architecture  and urban planning
  • Projects he handled were capitol complex, housing, museum, city plaza etc

The capitol complex

  • The area of the greatest symbolic significance in Chandigarh was the capitol complex , which in its final form was based on the design of a grate cross axis
  • The most important group of the buildings constituting the capitol- right, the parliament, left, in the background, the secretariat
  • In the foreground, the pool of the palace of justice
  • The artificial hills in the front of the secretariat have not been created and laid out in accordance with Corbusier’s conceptions
  • Although the scene is harmonious in effect, there are still missing the buildings that belong here ,such as , for instance, the towers of shadows

Site plan:

  • Here the secretariat building is treated as a horizontal platform like the plain of Chandigarh itself, carrying on its roof the provincial assembly hall rising in a parabolic arch, a form echoing the distant hills
  • As a  response to the sun, the capitol complex can be interpreted as an interlaced array of sun breakers
  • Inspiration from unite
  • It lies in the foot of shivalik hills just next to artificial lake
  • Governor’s palace was supposed to be in the site but the idea was abandoned
  • The capitol area was designed as the great pedestrian plaza with motor traffic separated into sunken trenches leading to parking areas
  • Although the site is very big, it is not designed with allowance for expansion

The secretariat:

  • The first design for the secretariat presents the building as a tall thin slab carrying a surface brise soleil divided by a central horizontal band
  • The design which was accepted established the building form as a long ,horizontal concrete slab
  • The secretariat, the longest building in Chandigarh, 254m long, and 42m high forms the administrative center, with ministerial offices grouped in the center and offices for employees arranged on either side
  • The building was completed in 1958
  • The building is composed of six  eight storey blocks separated by expansion joints
  • The central pavilion, block 4, contains the offices of the ministers
  • The rough concrete again interposes in the fenestration of the two main facades ; more than 2000 units of unique design
  • Approach to the building is through roadways below ground level to a large parking area  in front of the central block, and a floor is left open at this level to form an entrance hall
  • Block 1 and 2 rises directly from the ground
  • Block 3,4 and part of 5 face on the excavated area of the parking lot and have the lower storey open between pilotis
  • For the rest part of block 5 and whole of 6 the level goes till plaza height, and lower portion of these blocks are left open to a height of two storyes
  • The top of the building is developed as a roof garden containing the service blocks and cafeteria for employees
  • The plastic emphasis is given to the building by free standing exterior ramps enclosed in rough concrete walls
  • For supplementary communication within the building , each of six blocks is equipped with interior stairways and limited elevator service
  • Horizontal circulation is by means of a central corridors
  • For minister’s block the bay size is increased and the column is thickened

The high court

  • The high court formed a part as “ a great architectural venture using very poor materials and a labor force quite unused to modern building techniques
  • An entire structure has resulted in the use of double roof
  • The upper roof cantilevered out of the office block in the manner of parasol shading the lower roof
  • The space between the two roofs is left open to enable currents of air to move between the flat roof of the office block and the underside of the parasol roof which slopes towards center in the form of rows of arches
  • In the plan the building took the form of abbreviated l – shaped with long façade facing the capitol plaza to contain court rooms
  • The building is a rectilinear frame within which the interior functions are defined
  • The eight court rooms are identically expressed on the main façade and separated from the larger high court by a monumental columned entrance rising the height of the building
  • Building rises directly from the earth
  • The main façade is defined by a full height concrete brise soleil
  • The arch form is restricted to the underside  of the parasol roof
  • It is the visual drama of the piers rising sixty feet from the ground to meet the heavy outward thrust of the roof which creates the focal emphasis of the present plan
  • On the main façade the deep fixed concrete brise soleil gives a strong and scale less pattern to the building
  • It is the concrete screen which gives the main façade its overall unity
  • Behind the brise soleil , the windows of the court rooms are of fixed glass, but between are narrow vertical spaces containing shutters which open and close on hinges
  • It is noted that the orientation of the high court is such that the main façade faces north west , and this does not receive direct sunlight
  • The rough concrete of the building is treated in variety of manners for much of the surface including the underside of the parasol roof and the exterior side walls , the mass of sheet metal characterize the surface
  • In portions of the interior and on the ramps , wooden boards have been inserted within the metal forms to give the concrete surface the impress of their jointed pattern, while other surfaces, including those of massive entrance piers are finished with gunnite cement

Architectural features:

  • Parasol roof
  • Forming arches
  • Double roof
  • Gap left between
  • Two roofs
  • Colored massive pillars
  • Full height entrance
  • Double roof
  • Approached through roads
  • Rough concrete finished ramp
  • The entrance lobby is paved with whitish flag stone set in the rows of varying widths
  • New scheme for painting the columns and portico walls in bright contrasting colors
  • The inside wall to the left of the piers was to be black
  • The adjacent pillar painted green
  • The center pier would be yellow
  • The right hand pillar is red
  • And the remaining portico wall is primary blue
  • The graet entrance hall of the high court is also been found in lacking protection during the monsoon season
  • The narrow curving ramp at the end of the entrance hall, which forms the main vertical circulation is exposed
  • The horizontal circulation, consisting of open corridors on the rear facade ,is also ineffectively sheltered

The assembly hall:

  • The assembly was conceived as a rectilinear structure
  • It is square in plan with a monumental  portico facing the main plaza
  • On the lateral facades both the portico and the office block would be defined by solid end walls
  • The large chamber is in hyperbolic form of the cooling tower with an average thickness of 15 cms
  • The small council chamber are in rectilinear frame
  • The upper portion of the tower is extending above the roof line
  • An assembly chamber is 128 ft in diameter at its base and rises to 124 ft at its highest point
  • This tower was designed to insure the natural light, ventilation and proper acoustics
  • Of all buildings of the capitol complex , the assembly is the most intricate in plan
  • Separate circulation accommodation of all groups is provided
  • Employing a system of individual entrances, stairways, lifts and ramp a complete segregation of members is provided
  • There are two separate galleries for men and women in council chamber

Sector-17, Chandigarh:

  • The city center consists of different squares tied together by broad avenues.
  • At the present time, when this center is still devoid of any sort of vegetation, the unshaded open areas can be quite unpleasant.
  • This sector-17 is virtually uninhabited, but it is enlivened during the daytime by the many shops, bazaars, restaurant, cafes, banks and department stores.
  • There is doubt that at present the city center still looks like an experiment.
  • The urban circulation here is in sharp contrast to the ‘oriental’ bazaar streets, the narrow alleys full of noise and plunged in shadow.
  • Of all the  cities of India , only Chandigarh can claim to be an absolutely modern town , ”untouched by the tradition of the past,”  as Jawaharlal Nehru so aptly remarked .
  • The execution of the buildings for the city centre was assigned to different architects. Pierre jeanneret conscientiously supervised and organized the schemes determined by le Corbusier.
  • The plans can vary as required, but must respect a sufficiently large open surface along the facades as anti-glare protection.

Sukhna lake, Chandigarh

  • The club house- north of the capitol  no additional structures  were to be erected, in order  not to  impede  the view of the Himalaya.
  • This was an express condition laid down by le Corbusier.
  • The club house was however necessity.
  • Le Corbusier designed a complex lying 3 meters beneath road level, so that the house  is scarcely visible  from the  promenade.
  • The causeway- Chandigarh is surrounded by the rivers Patiali and Manimajra, which carry water only during the monsoon season.
  • The reinforced concrete construction is simple and plain, and its severe lines harmonize entirely with the natural setting.
  • At all other times of the year they are dry.
  •  During the hot months of may and June, enormous amounts of dust  used to blow into the city.
  • Trees and shrubs were planted as a protective zone along these rivers, so that the city is now free of the inconvenience of this flying sand.
  • One of these rivers has been dammed.
  • In 1955 the water boulevard was extended in the shape of a causeway, or dam, the retaining wall being more than
  • 20 meters high and 4 kilometers long.
  • This dam, with its width on top of 24meters, thus yielded a promenade.
  • The artificial lake created behind the dam has modified the climate of the city.

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