Ahead of UNESCO team visit in Sept, Corbusier’s creations get a facelift

As the team is coming to evaluate the site before its final decision, the local administration has taken up all the unfinished work and restoration on a priority basis.

Written by Vivek Gupta | Chandigarh | Published:July 29, 2015 3:05 am
UNESCO, Le Corbusier’s legacy,  heritage tag,  Le Corbusier architectural creation, Chandigarh Administration, Indian Urbanisation, Chandigarh news, Indian Express Work in progress at Capitol Complex in Chandigarh on Tuesday. (Jasbir Malhi)

Ahead of the proposed visit of a UNESCO team in September to assess Chandigarh’s claim to heritage tag for the Capitol Complex, the Le Corbusier architectural creations are being spruced up.

The complex, the master architect’s most spectacular work, which includes the High Court, the legislative assembly, the secretariat building, the Open Hand monument and other structures, is competing for world heritage status that is to decided next year.

As the team is coming to evaluate the site before its final decision, the local administration has taken up all the unfinished work and restoration on a priority basis.

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The construction of a sun dial, which had been pending for a long time, is at an advanced stage of completion.

Renovation is also underway at the Tower of Shadows, the first structure that Corbusier built at the site to study how to channel and use sunlight in the big buildings that he was planning at the site. It was in pitiable condition with seepage damaging its structure.

The major focus is on the restoration of the plaza, a half-km-long open space across which lie the assembly and the High Court. For long, barbed wires restricted free movement from the High Court to assembly as part of security measures. The wires are gone now in an attempt to restore the concept of the plaza which, according to experts, Corbusier planned as an embodiment of free and open thinking.

Another significant change in the plaza will be parking. Every day, more than 100 vehicles are parked in front of the High Court building, which are mostly of judges and other judicial officers. Director (Tourism) Kavita Singh, who is directly monitoring the restoration work, says the chief architect office is working on the provision of alternative parking area. Once it is done, all the vehicles that are parked in front of the High Court will be shifted there on a permanent basis.

Besides, the UT Administration will remove temporary sheds behind the Open Hand monument.

New pathway to connect assembly and secretariat

Apart from these renovation works, a new pathway is being created for visitors to have unobstructed connectivity from the assembly to the secretariat building. As per the proposed movement plan, the visitors will first be taken inside the High Court building following which plaza will take them inside the assembly. From there, a new pathway along with Tower of Shadows and Geometric Hill will take them directly to the secretariat.

“Currently visitors pass through several security checks while moving from assembly to secretariat. A new pathway will facilitate visitor movement between these two buildings,” said Nishant Katoch, an official posted there.

Secretary (Culture) Anurag Agarwal told Newsline that the administration was committed to completing the entire renovation work before the arrival of the team “to ensure that the team is satisfied with our efforts”.

Weathering of concrete

There are signs of weathering of the concrete in the facade of all the three major buildings. Two years ago, the engineering department engaged the Central Building Research Institute, Roorkee, to recommend ways to restore the buildings.

Officials said that the report was expected within a month’s time following which work would be taken up accordingly.

Besides, there are issues of damage at some locations, and modification has been made to interior spaces with aluminium and glazed partitions. Kavita Singh said that in the recent coordination meeting with Punjab and Haryana, they had agreed to take steps in this direction.

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