As the evening set on the Capitol Complex, the fading sunlight created a dance of different shades on the lighted buildings of the complex and the Pit of Contemplation, under the Open Hand, pulsated with activity. The citizens of Chandigarh settled for an evening of insight, discussion and debate as renowned architect Professor Balkrishna Doshi connected with them during his talk titled, ‘Le Corbusier’s Vision of Capitol Complex’. Wednesday’s event was a unique chance for people to experience the grandeur of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, listen to Doshi’s interactions with Le Corbusier during their six years of association in Paris, Chandigarh and Ahmedabad as his disciple and understand the vision of Corbusier in the creation of the Capitol Complex.
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“What a place to stand, below the Open Palm, frightening, yet elevating. I am absolutely fascinated by the levels here and the dialogue between the Open Hand and the galaxy. What more can we ask for. This World Heritage Site is heritage, sanskar, itihass,” reflected Doshi.
Describing his association with Corbusier in Paris as chance, luck and grace, Doshi shared how the former would speak to him in broken language and discuss drawings, plans, etc, all the time. Describing Corbusier’s buildings as landmarks, the need was to listen to what the buildings say. “Not just space and structures, these buildings have profound meanings, tell their own stories and narratives. This is heirloom heritage, one that initiates a dialogue with the soul and makes us look at the value of creation. Our responsibility is to create a murmur, fairytales and listen to the symphony,” smiled Doshi.
Spending some hours here at the Open Hand, watching his great-granddaughter jumping around, Doshi said he saw the Open Hand move and the invisible wind told him he was here. Describing Corbusier as a Renaissance architect, a man of many parts, he added that Corbusier’s work was a reflection of his extensive research, study, travel, time with himself. “He was like a hermit and his thinking moved him towards new architecture, breaking many conventions and rules. He looked at human proportions for his work and, as architects, we need to remember we are doing everything for human beings, not machines. His philosophy was live, move, do work and establish connections between body, mind and spirit and the Capitol Complex is a fine example of it,” shared Doshi.
“Sitting here, I feel liberated inside. For, in this complex, you can see modulations of the sky, ground, sun, landscape, wind. The ramps help you move slowly, giving a chance to observe the surroundings, feel the silence, yet have a dialogue of independence here in the pit. He found in fragmentation a new vocabulary,” stated Doshi, pointing to the elements, colours, openings, play of light and the unique scale of this complex.
Addressing students, young architects and people of Chandigarh, Doshi stressed the need for us to search slowly and like water flows, make sure our work is responsive and respectful to nature. The Himalayas were an integral part of Corbusier’s drawings, added Doshi, where the head of
the complex is located, as he worked on the transparency of the buildings, with the Open Hand asking questions to other buildings.
“There’s always a surprise here, like a theatre stage, it is not static. Architecture is not sterile, but poetry, and here are varied textures, inventions and each building has a story, context and reason. It is for us to cherish it, preserve it, use it and value it. And, I hope the Governor’s Palace is made some day to complete the complex,” summed up Doshi, during a panel discussion on the challenge of connecting citizens of Chandigarh with the Capitol Complex.