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History of ChandigarhHistory of Chandigarh
 
Chandigarh


History of Chandigarh

Chandigarh is synonymous to a certain kind of architecture, along with planned landscaping which is, not found in other cities of India, and not amenable to being strait jacketed. Here's the story of 'The City Beautiful' for you.

The Government of Punjab, initially approached American town planner Albert Mayer who along with architect Mathew Nowicki became the key planners for the new city. The master plan conceived by them had a fan-shaped outline filling the site between the two seasonal river-beds. Against the beautiful background of the Shivalik Hills was located the capital complex, at the northern edge of the city. The City Centre was sited in the middle, and two linear parklands ran from the northeast to the southwest. The Mayer wanted to create a self-sufficient city, restricted in size and surrounded by green belts. Areas for business, industry and cultural activities were clearly demarcated. In August 1950, his co-planner Nowicki died in a plane crash and Mayer withdrew from the project.

This vision of Chandigarh, contained in the innumerable conceptual maps on the drawing board together with notes and sketches had to be translated into brick and mortar. Eminent architect and urban theorist, Le Corbusier, was then selected to carry forward this task. He chose to retain many of the seminal ideas of Mayer and Nowicki, like the basic framework of the master plan and its components; the Capital, City Centre, besides the University, Industrial area, and linear parkland. Even the neighbourhood unit was retained as conceived by the previous architects. However, the curving outline of Mayer and Nowicki were redeisgned into a mesh of rectangles, and the buildings were characterised by an 'honesty of materials'. Exposed brick and boulder stone masonry in its rough form produced unfinished concrete surfaces, in geometrical structures. This became the architecture form characteristic of Chandigarh, set amidst landscaped gardens and parks.

The Master Plan

Le Corbusier saw the master plan of Chandigarh as analogous to a living organism, with a clearly defined head (the Capital Complex, Sector 1), heart (the City Centre, Sector 17), lungs (the leisure valley, innumerable open spaces and green sector), the intellect (the cultural and educational institutions), the circulatory system (the network of roads, the 7 Vs), and the viscera (the Industrial Area).



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