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Sunday, April 18, 2021

Chandigarh: Floored by floors in City Beautiful

Chandigarh has witnessed a sea change in the last decade or so from just being a tier 3 city known for its gardens, parks and tarmac-laden gleaming roads to now being a comfortable mini-cosmopolitan cousin of Delhi.

Written by Nagina Bains | Chandigarh |
March 15, 2021 11:24:17 am
Chandigarh: Floored by floors in City BeautifulThe preferred location charges of course are now not limited only to the big real estate players but have extended their reach to the kothi owners too beginning with park-facing corners and, of course, proximity to the lake. (Representational Image)

Sometimes one wonders whether the recent evaluations of cities befitted an ideal living, or for that matter any rankings have an impact on our civility or our undaunted love for the City Beautiful?

While civility I wish was taken as seriously by the citizens as they take notice of the white uniform-clad traffic police of Chandigarh or when they are defending the city in drawing room discussions in Sainik farms and Brampton and New Jersey.

Chandigarh has witnessed a sea change in the last decade or so from just being a tier 3 city known for its gardens, parks and tarmac-laden gleaming roads to now being a comfortable mini-cosmopolitan cousin of Delhi. And not only in the culinary diaspora or the slowly impending arts avenues but also architecturally where what was once unthinkable is doable for owning a pad in the city north and south of the Madhya Marg, the defining line between Chandigarh’s version of Lutyens’ Delhi or Corbusier’s Chandigarh and then the rest.

The independent floors which are now fulfilling a daydream that many Chandigarh lovers had to own a place in the city can now see it realising with floors mushrooming everywhere with avant garde constructions, elevators, terraces, vertical gardens and basements and parking.

The preferred location charges of course are now not limited only to the big real estate players but have extended their reach to the kothi owners too beginning with park-facing corners and, of course, proximity to the lake.

Guranchal Sethi, a real estate consultant who has witnessed the change in selling and buying dynamics owing to the family being in the profession from the very beginning, says, “Floor-wise construction helps increase the density of the same plot and gives more options to people who cannot afford to buy full houses in case of family settlements. Floor-wise construction helps in keeping intact the family harmony amongst brothers and sisters as it’s an opportunity to be independent yet living in the same place. There has been an upsurge in sectors like Sector 11 which is now being considered the new defence colony with its increasing floor options and proximity to the lake and probably also because the sector has more one kanal options than any other in that side of town. Yes, there are drawbacks and major issues like parking but since our city was designed for four lakh people and we are a million living here, now this will be an ongoing issue unless we go the Singapore way.”

Parking, yes, is an issue the world is battling with and then for a city that has the highest density of privately owned vehicles faces yet another challenge there with its open hand open enough to constantly tweak and revise its parking policies.

Surbhi, a young engineer with interests in architectural planning, says, “Levying a charge for congestion and linking availability of parking space with vehicle registration can be done. Who will decide how much is to be charged and when? Also, can a person be denied his or her right to own a vehicle? Community parking is also recommended in each sector by using neighbourhood commercial and institutional parking lots on a rental basis. Interestingly, these lots are to be run by the registered residents’ welfare associations (RWAs).”

As long as the green spaces are being maintained, parking etiquette within the neighbourhood and within a floor- wise house is maintained, it’s an idea that is welcome, also because nuclear families within joint families of late have been on a rise. That too because of independent kitchens, lifestyle habits.

But then the Sunday lunches are always there to be with the grandparents or the chachas and tayas. Arun Dhir of Dhir Constructions, a firm behind many of the recent reinventions in architectural nuances and options in the Tricity area, sums it up: “Let’s face it. A very minuscule percentage of the population can afford to buy an independent bungalow in Chandigarh. Why shouldn’t a young couple if they can afford to buy a floor, maintain the house and the green spaces? They are probably more agile and economically more open to spending for neighbourhood welfare and upkeep and maintenance. Most of the large houses in town are owned by NRIs or aged parents who find it a challenge to maintain these big lots where the floor culture comes in useful. So, I think it’s an ideal harbinger for changing the mindset of “oh, no we can never buy a house in Chandigarh”.

To quote Le Corbusier, “The city of Chandigarh is planned to human scale. It puts us in touch with the infinite cosmos and nature. It provides us with places and buildings for all human activities by which the citizens can live a full and harmonious life. Here the radiance of nature and heart are within our reach.” Now maybe the heart too is.

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