Protecting and perpetuating ‘Brand Chandigarh’

The Le Corbusier & Pierre Jeanneret Forum launched in the City Beautiful 

Protecting and perpetuating ‘Brand Chandigarh’

Chandigarh: March 22 marked the 125th birth anniversary of Chandigarh’s first Chief Architect, the Swiss-Frenchman, Pierre Jeanneret, who was the younger cousin of Le Corbusier, and worked as his deputy in the design, ideation and erection of Chandigarh from 1951 to 1965.

On this important occasion, some conscientious citizens of Chandigarh came together to launch The Le Corbusier & Pierre Jeanneret Forum (LC&PJ) at the Chandigarh College of Architecture (CCA) where the Principal Sangeeta Bagga Mehta and Chandigarh’s Chief Architect Kapil Setia made presentations. The presentations focused on the phenomenal body of creative work done by Pierre Jeanneret in the 15 years that he was in the city. The UT Administration’s Secretary, Technical Education, SS Gill, IAS was also present.

The Forum’s founder, Dr. Sandeep Goyal said that this would be a study-group-cum- think-tank devoted to preserving the ‘brand-goodness’ of Chandigarh, the foremost modern city that came up post partition with proper urban planning and micro-detailing of its major public buildings, and human dwellings. Says Dr. Goyal, “Chandigarh was designed in 1950 as the Punjab’s new state capital. Le Corbusier, a global

‘starchitect’ was tapped to design the new metropolis, employing a grid street pattern, European-style boulevards and raw concrete buildings – a distillation of ideas that were revolutionary and avant garde. The result was a spectacular city. But today, nearly seven decades later, a lot of those buildings have taken a lot of wear and tear, and occupants over the years have snipped and changed the originals. Before they get totally changed or altered or demolished, the visual heritage of these buildings needs to be fully preserved and archived. LC&PJ’s first task is to get that started.”

“LC&PJ will be working with the students and faculty of the CCA to photograph, catalogue and compile the design features of buildings designed by Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret across 14 types of dwelling units in Sectors 11, 15, 16, 19, 20, 22, 23, 24 and 27 besides those in the Capitol Complex, the Panjab University, including the Gandhi Bhawan, Fine Arts Museum, University Library and the famous cylindrical Student Centre. In the next stage all government schools designed in the 1950s and 1960s, and unique SCO/SCFs in Sector 22, 17, 16, 11, 21, 20, 27, 19 and others will be brought into the ambit,” added Prof. Avanindra Chopra, Honorary Secretary of the Forum.

The Forum will also be collaborating with the Pierre Jeanneret Museum in Sector 5. Plans are afoot to create miniature to-size replicas of all the edifices and display them at the Museum with old architectural layouts and possibly soon have CAD-CAM virtual walk-throughs for visitors. The LC&PJ office bearers have already met and opened discussions with Prof. Dipika Gandhi, who is in-charge of the Museum, and also oversees the Le Corbusier Centre in Sector 19.

The city of Chandigarh has a certain design language that has contributed to its unique brand personality that differentiates it from other cities. “Brand Chandigarh needs to continue to evolve,” says LC&PJ Founder Dr. Goyal. “The Forum’s efforts will add vivacity and value to the city ... for its residents, its tourists and its many virtual residents who live in distant lands but still call it home. For all of them we need to preserve the design integrity of the city and ensure we continue to invest in the city in a manner that it has always stood for”.

LC&PJ is a non-profit organization. Membership is by invitation only.