The city of Chandigarh, bordering the states of Punjab and Haryana in northern India, was designed between and Nehru saw Chandigarh as key to his ambitious, comprehensive program of modernization and social and economic reforms. In the sculptural mound of the roof structure in this model, the assembly building clearly stands out against the cityscape, echoing the Himalayan foothills that tower against the surrounding flat, arid terrain. That project has concluded, and works are now being identified by MoMA staff. If you notice an error, please contact us at digital moma.
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For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser. Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser. That daring old man on the flying trapeze. One arrives at Chandigarh. Chandigarh, brave new Chandigarh, born in the harsh plains of the Punjab without umbilical cord. Then in the distance, like an aircraft carrier floating above the flotsam and jetsam of some harbour town, appears the Secretariat.
From miles away one sees it, white in the sunlight, racing along with the car riding high above the rows of gimcrack houses that make up the foreground. Gradually this proscenium clears, and the other two elements of the Capitol appear: the Assembly and the High Court; and the three buildings ride together against the grey-blue foot-hills of the Himalayas. Ride together, swinging sometimes in front of each other and sometimes behind enormous banks of earth. One approaches closer and closer to the complex, and the bleached whiteness deepens slowly into the grey-green of concrete, the simple outlines of the masses dissolve into an astonishing, voluptuous complexity of shadow and substance.
Incredible, evocative architecture! Peter are a passion! His buildings- both in concept and visual language- have always been presented at a certain decibel level. No sotto voce, no politeness, but-like Wagner-thunder in the concert hall. This is probably the single most important fact about Corb because it necessitates his discarding any solutions which cannot be projected at the decibel level he favours.
It is interesting to note that when Corb sometimes intentionally lowers the volume, as for instance in the new extensions to the High Court, he achieves an architecture not unlike that of Louis Kahn. How does one project architecture at this decibel level? He has always sought to demonstrate something we did not know. It is then that the true artist takes his chance. An acrobat is no puppet. He devotes his life to activities in which, in perpetual danger of death, he performs extraordinary movements of infinite difficulty, with disciplined exactitude and precision… free to break his neck and his bones and be crushed.
Nobody asked him to do this. Nobody owes him any thanks. He lives in an extraordinary world, of the acrobat Result: most certainly! He does things which others cannot. Result: why does he do them? In fact, the Unite is an astonishing complex of spatial, structural, economic, and perhaps sociological, relevance. Since then- and especially in his buildings in India- Corb has become more and more absorbed in his visual language; and however masterful this language may have become, it is still only one aspect of any great architecture.
Did not the earlier Corb promise something less skin-deep, something more conceptual? The idea behind the Assembly is extremely simple: along three sides of the building, ft.
In the centre is an interior court, ft. Corb has provided the principal users of the building-the legislators, the office workers, the press and the visiting public-each with their own system of entrances, lobbies, stairs, etc.
The drama of the building starts with its skyline. So also the Assembly; the three elements on the roof: the hyperboloid, the pyramid and the lift-tower play out a dance-drama against the sky.
The hyperboloid is inexpressibly beautiful from a distance-white in the sunlight, yet soft as snow. The three elements pirouette around each other as we approach the building, exchanging positions and crossing back and forth.
Finally they recede behind the enormous sweep of the portico. And so it is the gargantuan portico which gives the building direction, turning it to face the High Court.
One enters under the 50 ft. How can one begin to convey a sense of so complex an interior? Study the sections and plans.
In other words, Corb, like Frank Lloyd Wright, is keenly aware of the distances that can be seen from any given point. By never defining the limits of this vision the sections and plans are co-ordinated so that the eye can always see beyond and around the corner , the spaces remain dynamic and uncontained.
As one traverses the ramps and platform levels of the forum one builds up a series of images which are superimposed on the brain, creating an overall pattern of incredible richness.
The complexity of his architecture is not due to the creation of one single intricate pattern but is rather due to the creation of several different patterns which, through superimposition, generate an indescribable complexity. This technique is often used in the marble grilles of Fatehpur Sikri and the shoji screens of Japan. This is not to say that Corb could really have calculated all these effects.
What he has done is this: he has been shrewd enough to establish a situation where different patterns can interact. The miracles follow of their own accord, and a complete landscape is generated.
And the finest landscape of all lies within the forum. Here all the major elements are self-supporting, thus necessitating a great many columns rising to a great many different heights. Yet this articulation of the structural system never borders on mannerism, for Corb is working at a vast scale, and he knows just what he can and cannot do. The columns give rhythm and scale, rising like a great forest in the dulcet light. And it is this light, filtering from above, washing the concrete surfaces, that draws us upward into the higher reaches of the building.
Here the light gets dimmer, the spaces more diffuse. One is walking across large desolate areas, and down strange alleyways, between giant concrete forms. Where are we? At the top of the Duomo? It is a strange moment, an eclectic moment, deeply evocative of an architecture past. Then we emerge on to the roof level and into the dazzling sunlight. Here we are on an immense cobbled piazza, the landscape of Chandigarh lying all around; and like monsters rising above the surface of the sea, emerge the hyperboloid, the pyramid and the lift-tower.
The last act of the drama- like the opening of the drama- is played out here against the sky. How does so complex a building hold visually together?
Primarily through the near-exclusive use of a single material: concrete. Any ape can be brutal, and Corb could never be exclusively brutal any more than he could be exclusively elegant. It is essential to his temperament that he expresses both qualities at the same time. A glance at the Jaoul houses in Paris will illustrate this.
It has been said that one understands the hardness of rock only if one knows the softness of silk, and Corb himself reputedly sprinkles his biftek with large granules of kitchen salt. Thus we find that at certain levels of the Assembly- as for instance in the bridge connecting the lift-tower to the top of the hyperboloid- the physical protection provided is completely inadequate.
Yet try to imagine the same architecture with a safe three-foot-high parapet providing uniform protection all around! Danger perhaps is the necessary concomitant of safety. And danger has its own rewards: crossing the jungle at night may be a fearsome experience, but it gets you to keep your eyes open, your ears flapping, your senses alert.
Corb, cunning as he is, has probably observed this. Mies- who may himself be brought in at this point to provide contrast- is an architect who plays a very limited range of the spectrum; and if he may, for the purpose of analogy, be described as an artist who can take a potato and boil it perfectly, then Corb is certainly the man for a really first-class curry.
A Miesian plan brings the simplest elements together in an atmosphere of Olympian calm; it is a space at rest, devoid of any too particular orientation unfortunately, through vulgarization, this has popularized an effete symmetry that has swept America like diarrhoea. The exception perhaps is the museum at Ahmedabad which is his blandest, and weakest, building. The Chandigarh Assembly has, in a very large measure, this sense of life.
It is an exuberant building, and its impact-its decibel level-is perfectly gauged in scale to its size. In fact, throughout the building, the sense of spatial control is so masterful that it is perplexing that at the climax of the composition, the Assembly chamber itself, Corb falters.
One enters this chamber and one is at the bottom of a gigantic well. The walls swerve upward to a height of over ft. In an attempt to kill this height Corb has painted the walls in three horizontal bands-red, yellow and white. In an attempt to increase the amount of light reaching the floor the natural light in the chamber is painfully inadequate , he has used yellow wool carpets, and further, to break up the monumental space, he has installed green and brown seats alternately in a sort of checker-board pattern.
But to what avail? What is the reason for this seeming failure? The fluid shape of the hyperboloid is hardly to blame. On the contrary it is a surprisingly sensible choice and perhaps the only static space which could climax the dynamic images of the forum areas. Instead, a likely reason for the unhappy state of affairs is the light; Corb has inserted only three openings in the circular roof, and they are supposed to let in direct sunlight only on particular days -i.
While this surely will make a charming story for a guidebook a hundred years hence, it makes impossible conditions for those using the chamber right here and now. The children set these up in a certain way, then they cry: Look at the Motor car! If you say: How can it be a motor car?
Does it move? They do not understand. To them it is a motor car. So Corb has his failures; yet somehow, in so glorious an architecture, they do not seem to matter. Like any major artist, his idiosyncrasies and his mistakes are part of his character. Thus one derives as much pleasure from the minor houses of Wright, the lesser plays of Shakespeare and the earlier quartets of Beethoven as one does from any of their masterworks.
It is a curious point, worth a text of its own, that in art at this level a certain amount of ambiguity and error makes for reality- reality being the antithesis of slickness.
Palace of Assembly, Chandigarh
One of Le Corbusier's most prominent buildings from India, the Palace of the Assembly in Chandigarh boasts his major architectural philosophies and style. Le Corbusier's five points of architecture can be found within the design from its open plan to the view of the Himalayan landscape. The program features a circular assembly chamber, a forum for conversation and transactions, and stair-free circulation. The first of Le Corbusier's architectural ideals is the use of pilotis to lift the structure off of the ground. Reinforced concrete columns are utilized in a grid throughout the Palace of the Assembly and are slightly altered to raise a large swooping concrete form high above the entrance.
The Palace of Assembly, Chandigarh: Beautiful Collision of Art and Architecture
Sektor 1 Chandigarh Contact : Dept. The plans published here represent the final version of the Palace of Assembly but contain certain errors rectified at the site during Le Corbusier's last trip to India, in March For example, the great hall of Deputies, with the seating arrangement and the place reserved for the speaker, constituted unwittingly an encroachment on the Indian constitutional procedure, a revolutionary incident, entirely unpremeditated, of course! All has been restored to order by the arrangement of the seating to correspond to Indian custom, in which the Government and the opposition are situated face to face and discuss issues instead of addressing their discourse to an assembly and to a gallery filled with an eager public!