«The city-from-scratch concept has something particularly fascinating about it—especially for an architect! Often history has shaped the construction of cities around access to water, creating plans where the city rules over the laws of geometry. The 20th century saw the creation of two major cities: Brasilia in Brazil, initiated by Oscar Niemeyer and Lucio Costa, and Changigarh in India, under the leadership of Le Corbusier.»

Following the partition of India in 1947, Lahore, the capital of Punjab, became part of Pakistan. Nehru thus decided to create a new city named Chandigarh (Chandi’s fort, named after the goddess of the same name). Albert Mayer drew up the initial plans, but Le Corbusier and his cousin Pierre Jeanneret were the ones to ultimately decide on urban planning, undertaking the design of all the necessary large public buildings.
The plans carved the city into sectors numbered 1 to 60, a practical model which made the city easy to navigate and orient oneself. It is worth noting that even rational minds like the Jeanneret cousins chose not to use the number 13, in keeping with the superstition from out of the West (originating perhaps with Christ’s last supper). A seven-lane road system was developed to facilitate the flow of traffic depending on density. Although the traffic in Chandigarh for a long time was more fluid than other cities in India, this is no longer the case today.

The capitol brings together the major works of Le Corbusier and remains in rather remarkable condition, although many buildings are subject to regular restoration. The Palace of Assembly is surrounded by a body of water and has a curved, majestic roof of concrete. The Palace of Justice paints geometric shapes with open cuts piercing the sky. The architect’s choice of bright colours adds a touch of cheerful animation to the façade.
Within the buildings of the Secretariat, the offices are a time capsule of that period’s furniture, a mix of wood and wicker (a style that’s highly sought-after in today’s architectural landscape). The spirit of the new city is captured in a large sculpture of an open hand designed by Le Corbusier.

Since 2016, these buildings have been inscribed on the list of Unesco World Heritage sites.
Even fifty years on and undergoing renovation, Le Corbusier’s buildings are still nothing short of masterpieces.

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