Shanti Travel > Le Corbusier, a French Urbanist who created Chandigarh

Le Corbusier, a French Urbanist who created Chandigarh

The Rock Garden in Chandigarh
The Rock Garden in Chandigarh

Le Corbusier, whose real name was actually Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris, was born in Switzerland but got naturalized to French in his forties. This talented urban planner (among other professions) became world famous for being one of the pioneers of the Modern Architecture movement.  His aim was to provide residents of crowded cities with better living conditions. He created new urban and architectural concepts in Europe, America and, and surprise surprise, India.

One of his first works was the construction of “Maison La Roche” in the elegant 16th arrondissement of Paris. He designed it for a Swiss business man who wanted to live in a house which could be an art gallery at the same time. Today, this building houses the Le Corbusier foundation as well as a museum. It exhibits the largest collection of his drawings, studies, and plans.

In his early career, his idea was to create a “Contemporary City” composed of skyscrapers set in the middle of green spaces. At the center of this city, there would have been an expansive transportation system, including bus and train stations, intersections for highways and an airport. He clearly wanted to separate the pedestrians’ paths from the cars’ areas and he glorified the automobile revolution. Today, he would have likely been less popular! He deeply believed in American organization.

A few years later, his vision on society changed and he joined a left-wing political party. He wrote his new ideas on urbanism in his book “The Radiant City”. He gave up the economic position of inhabitants as a base for urbanism for the size of families. He dreamed about cities with a calm and powerful architecture, alluding to steel, glass and concrete. He started on a small scale by building series of blocks around France. The most famous is the “Unité d’Habitation” in Marseilles.

India offered him a real opportunity to make his dream come true thanks to the construction of Chandigarh, when it was designated the new capital of Punjab and Haryana. Built in the 50’s, Chandigarh was the first planned city in India. Le Corbusier designed many administration buildings like the courthouse and the parliament building and a university. He also drew the general layout of the city, dividing it into sectors.

Today, the city can boast having the highest per capita income in the country. It is also considered the cleanest city in India. Chandigarh is home to Le Corbusier’s largest “Open Hand” sculpture, standing 26 meters high. It is one of his recurring pieces of art, which represents the give and take of ideas.

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