Chandigarh: In Search of an Identity

By Ravi Kalia | Go to book overview

.2.
ARCHITECTS

If Indian leaders lacked unanimity as to the location of the new capital, they nonetheless shared a common vision concerning the nature of that city. Prime Minister Nehru best articulated this common vision: "Let this be a new town symbolic of the freedom of India, unfettered by the traditions of the past...an expression of the nation's faith in the future."1 Even his minister of health, Rajkumari Amrit Kaur, who was most vocal in her opposition to the Chandigarh site, endorsed Nehru's sentiment, noting: "As a Punjabi I want the new capital of the Punjab to be the last word in beauty, in simplicity and in standards of such comfort as it is our duty to provide to every human-being."2 Punjab's chief minister, Gopichand Bhargava, hoped that Chandigarh would be "the world's most charming capital."3

Because of the centralized control inherent in a new city's development, many national governments in the twentieth century have looked to its creation as a solution for urban congestion, inhibiting rural depopulation, and restoring regional balance. The Indian government recognized the effectiveness of urban planning as a policy tool for providing jobs and homes for refugees, absorbing excess population from older urban areas, encouraging economic growth, and providing population stability in economically depressed regions. The experience of England, where the modern new towns movement was first started by Sir Ebenezer Howard ( 1850-1928), was not lost on Cambridge-educated Pundit Nehru. In his book To-morrow: A Peaceful Path to Real Reform 4 ( 1898), Howard had described the parts of a city in organic relationship to each other, and had accordingly placed a functional limit on the growth of any one element. Reaffirming Aristotle's conception that there was a right size for the city -- big enough to encompass all its functions but not too big to

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Chandigarh: In Search of an Identity
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations vii
  • Preface ix
  • 1 - Genesis 1
  • 2 - Architects 21
  • 3 - The Mayer Plan 45
  • 4 - The Le Corbusier Plan 70
  • 5 - A Planned City 121
  • 6 - Conclusions 144
  • Notes 159
  • Bibliography 177
  • Index 191
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