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Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret:The Indian Architecture

United Kingdom Architecture News - Sep 15, 2014 - 18:01   6463 views

The achievements of creative men reach out far beyond the bonds of their national background and environment. They soar like mountain peaks above narrow confines of their immediate setting and become part of a world panorama. This is true of the works of Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret. Most of the architectural fraternity is already familiar with their Indian work which was accomplished when they were at the zenith of their career. The enduring quality, eclectic range and enormous volume of their work in India calls for an intensive critical appraisal. Undoubtedly, a large number of publications include Le Corbusier’s projects in India but very few dwell on Pierre Jeanneret’s contribution to architecture in India.  Most of those which cover Le Corbusier’s work are subjective in nature and are often dealt with by foreign authors who presumably have made rather brief visits to view their creations before writing about them.

The book, though a modest addition to the voluminous publications, mostly descriptive, on these legendry architects, hope to throw light on some features hitherto not dealt with in earlier existing literature. The present book discusses almost all the works of Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret in India including some lesser-known ones as well as some projects which were not realized. Indeed some of these have been written about for the first time. In Particular Pierre Jeanneret’s works which were not so well-known earlier but find a befitting coverage in this book. Published after more than five decades of Chandigarh’s inception, this work portrays the up-to-date scenario of the built-environment vis-à-vis the inhabitants’ views on it. The reaction of the ultimate recipients of any delivery system, naturally based on their felt needs, is a most critical aspect for any in-depth analysis.

Besides discussing Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret’s work in this sub-continent, the book also reviews their influence on contemporary architecture, urban design and town planning in India in the post-Independence era. It acquaints the readers with a number of well-known and some lesser-known architects and their work in the country, in terms of their planning and design approaches which reflect an undeniable and indelible influence of Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret.

The book has been divided into eight rigorously drafted chapters:

-Chapter 1, Tale of Two Colossi sketches the luminous lives of le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret. It explains their Indian connection with interesting events which happened during their stay in this country.

-Chapter 2, titled City Planning describes Le Corbusier’s theories of town planning and their implementation in Chandigarh. It includes a brief comparative study of planning of contemporary capital cities like Islamabad, Brasilia and Canberra. It evaluates the Chandigarh city after more than five decades of its existence. It also covers Jeanneret’s Talwara, Sundernagar, Pandoh and Slapper township projects.

-Chapter 3, deals with Citadels of Democracy and is devoted to the Chandigarh Capitol Complex with comparison to similar projects designed by other architects. It also describes Jeanneret’s Raj Bhavan at Chandigarh along with techniques of conservation of concrete in buildings.

-Chapter 4, Poetry of Homes discusses government housing and private residences designed by Jeanneret in Chandigarh and Le Corbusier’s villas at Ahmedabad.

-Chapter 5, Hives of Work analyzes Chandigarh’s City Centre, sector markets and shopping centres along the Madhya Marg. It includes office buildings in Chandigarh and Mill Owners Association Building at Ahmedabad.

-Chapter 6, Temples of Learning deals with Pierre Jeanneret’s educational institutions like the Panjab University, nursery schools, junior secondary schools, the Central Polytechnic, the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research in Chandigarh, and Medical College at Rohtak in Haryana. It also discusses Le Corbusier’s College of Art and Chandigarh College of Architecture. Besides, it traces the masters’ influence on campus planning and architecture of other universities, colleges and schools.

-Chapter 7, Corridors of Culture covers Le Corbusier’s Museum and Art Gallery and Pavilion of Temporary Exhibitions (now City Museum) in Chandigarh and Sanskar Kendra at Ahmedabad. The recreational places like Sukna Lake, the Leisure Valley, and the Lake Club find detailed description. Some lesser-known works of Le Corbusier as Bhakra Dam at Nangal in Punjab and an unbuilt stadium at Chandigarh are also discussed in this chapter. It also includes various museums and cultural centres designed by various Indian architects which show the influence of Le Corbusier.

-Chapter 8, Footprints traces the role of the masters in evolution of modern architecture in India and discusses the works of Indian architects who were influenced by their philosophy of architecture and city planning. Some other towns like Gandhinagar, Goindwal Sahib and S.A.S. Nagar which are designed on the lines of Chandigarh are also discussed. The role played by Chandigarh College of Architecture along with other institutions in promoting Corbusierism and Jeanneretism is highlighted in this chapter. An epilogue titled A Participant Witness by Jeet Malhotra, a close associate of Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret, concludes the book with suggestions for solving the problems of urbanization in India.   

The book aims at putting on record first-hand information collected from those architects who joined Le Corbusier’s team as young assistants in the early fifties. Some of them have already passed away from the scene. Those living are in the last phase of their life. It was authors’ endeavour to gather relevant information from them as well as compile their views and insights regarding Le Corbusier and Jeanneret and their work experiences with them as witnesses to the great historical event of building an altogether new capital city on virgin land at the foothills of Shiwalik Hills. Besides being an historical event in itself, it changed the course of architectural thinking in India in the post-Independence era. Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret’s works profoundly influenced not only the approach to architectural design of professionals connected with the built-environment but also their concepts of structure, line, movement, form, materials and construction techniques. An incisive and comprehensive attempt has been made to trace the influence of these masters on Indian architects and planners who themselves were the torch-bearers for next generation of architects. Thus the book can be treated as a mirror to the historical development of architectural legacy of Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret.

The book will prove of value as a reference work to future planners, architects, engineers, urban designers, landscape architects, interior designers and students of these disciplines besides the decision-makers and serious, curious and enlightened lay readers the world over. 

Authors: Sarbjit Bahga and Surinder Bahga

Pages: 378
Size: 8.5”x11” (Paperback)
Photographs: 404 (B/W)
Illustrations: 121 (B/W)
ISBN-10: 1495906256

ISBN-13: 978-1495906251

Publishers: Createspace Independent Publishing.

Available on:WA Books