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It was an evening dedicated to the memory of M N Sharma, the first chief architect, who passed away on October 30 this year.
A man of many talents, who worked closely with Le Corbusier and his team, as India’s first modern city took shape and form, the memorial meeting held at the Government Museum on Tuesday, was a tribute to the architect by the M N Sharma Architectural Society, formed by him in 2015, for the preservation of Chandigarh and maintaining its spirit and ethos.
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Many friends and associates walked down the memory lane, recalling the contribution of Sharma to Chandigarh and his love and affection for the city, which he said was unique in every way.
Rajnish Wattas, former principal, Chandigarh College of Architecture, said: “He (Sharma) was among the creators of Chandigarh, known for his high standards of excellence and later among the custodians of the city, with a 360 degree view of it. He knew the essence of Chandigarh like no one else and besides creating landmark buildings, Sharma was an activist, who along with other citizens worked relentlessly towards the preservation of the city. The Chandigarh Heritage Committee was formed because of his efforts, and the Master Plan that was redrawn and is now a statutory document that has kept the spirit of the city alive, is his vision and work.”
The memorial meeting highlighted Sharma’s passion for saving Chandigarh for the future generations, by getting together people from various walks of life together and also the Chandigarh administration for the cause.
In a short film on Sharma, which was screened at the meeting, and created by his friend Yojna Rawat, which had excerpts from the last interview of Sharma, in which he spoke about the need to make the younger generation aware of Chandigarh, and also how haphazard growth would make the city lose its essence.
The film showcased Sharma’s early life, his work, philosophy, understanding of the nuances of Corbusier and his lust for life, work and creativity. Painting at the age of 91, completing his memoirs which are a document of the history of Chandigarh, meeting students and architects to discuss the future of the city, Sharma believed that life is about creating and working.
In the film, Sharma expresses his wish that his home in Sector 8, which he built with both love and ingenuity and which holds priceless photographs, documents, sculptures, art works.be converted into a museum and its present form be maintained, so that visitors can walk through the home, and get a glimpse of the many elements related to Chandigarh and the city. Having donated all his books to the library of the College of Architecture and many art works, lithographs, sculptures and a print by Corbusier to the Chandigarh Museum and Art Gallery, Sharma talked about how the Museum, which was designed by Corbusier, was the safest and best place for the valuable things related to the city that he had collected over the years.
“We lost the early book of Chandigarh with him. His commitment to the idea of saving Chandigarh is a story that has to be told again and again without a pause. This city needs to be protected and I hope the M N Sharma Architectural Society Architectural will keep his dream alive by working towards concrete plans in this direction,” said art historian B N Goswamy.
Sharma’s last creative endeavour was done in 2011, a wooden model of the universe that has two parts, equal in size, with a ball in the middle. Sharma’s dream was that it be created in steel and bronze, in a 50-feet tower form, which people could climb up and get a view of the skyline of Chandigarh.
“With the support of the administration, we hope that his wish be fulfilled and we are we will soon work on a concrete plan in this direction,” added Rawat.