Chandigarh is a grand success story in the annals of modern architecture. A revolutionary experiment which came to fruition with the juxtaposition of a great vision that the India's first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharla Nehru nurtured, and the profound genius of a French architect Le Corbusier and his team. Today Chandigarh is 114 square kilometers of invigorating aesthetics. It combines elegant architectural forms with wide tree lined avenues, green belts and gardens and offers a pleasant living experience to its residents and visitors. The Concept: Chandigarh was conceived amidst the post partition crisis. Work began on this project in the year 1950. Pandit Nehru on his first visit to the city remarked: "Let it be the first large expression of our creative genius flowering on our newly earned freedom." Undoubtedly the city has grown to symbolize Modern India and has earned for itself, and deservedly so, the acronym of the 'City Beautiful'. The city, with its chequered mesh of the grid-iron plan, nestles in the foothills of the majestic Shivalik hill range in the north. Two rivulets - the Patiali - ki - Rao and the Sukhna Choe - bound its north - west and south - west limits, respectively.
The master plan divides the city into rectangular modules called sectors, each measuring 800 to 1,200 meters with self - sufficient shopping complexes and other facilities. Le Corbusier planned the city as a living organism, with the Capitol Complex in the north representing the head, the city center the heart, the open spaces the lungs, the network of roads as the circulatory system, the industrial area the viscera, and the cultural and educational belts, the intellect.
The conception of the city has been formulated on the basis of four major functions : Living, Working, Care of the Body and Spirit and Circulation. The architectural style of the city, which has rightly come to be called the 'Chandigarh architecture', is represented by the unfinished concrete for the buildings in the Capitol Complex and other major buildings, exposed brickwork and use of brise-soleil, a louvered screen that replaces conventional verandah to keep sunlight from walls and windows. The buildings have been built with meticulously developed and standardized architectural features like flat- iron railings, rainwater- spouts, ramps, aerators, undulatory glass panels and the use of bright primary colours (red, blue, yellow) for painting doors and windows.
The Capitol Complex : The Capitol Complex is Le Corbusier's most spectacular work. The magnificent edifices, set against the Shivalik peaks, stand "as massive concrete sculptures, representing the monumental character and authority that the complex represents. It is the sea of the government of the States of Punjab and Haryana.
It comprises three epoch - making master - pieces : The Secretariat, the High Court and the Legislative Assembly. Separated by large piazzas, the subtle and most evocative grouping of these buildings is of breath - taking beauty. And in the center stands the giant metallic sculpture of The Open Hand, the official emblem of Chandigarh, signifying the city's credo of 'open to give, open to receive'.
The High Court : The law - interpreting monument was the first building to be built in the Capitol Complex during 1951 - 1957. This structure has a double roof, projecting over the office block like a parsol or an inverted umbrella. The magnificent outward sweep of the upper roof is symbolic of protection and justice to the people. The three vertical piers, rising 60 feet from the floor and painted in bright colours, form the grand entrance to the building.
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