BENEATH EACH layer of plaster is a new discovery as the cafeteria block in the green and quiet corner of the Le Corbusier Centre in Sector 19 gets a new lease of life, with the original structure being restored and renovated, keeping intact the originality and spirit of the place.
“It is an experimental structure. We kept thinking it was concrete, but after the plaster was removed, what emerged was a series of three brick vaults, intact after so many years with the benches, shelves, almirahs made of cardboard and jute, old electricity meter, an arch that served as a doorway, bringing back the years gone,” says Deepika Gandhi, Director of the centre, describing the place as a slice of history in the middle of Chandigarh.
Originally called the Old Architects Office, the Le Corbusier Centre is one of the earliest buildings constructed in Chandigarh, designed by Swiss architect Pierre Jeanneret and the workplace of Le Corbusier and his team. With practically no original drawings of the block at hand, people who used this space in the mid-1950s are being contacted, including architect S D Sharma, who worked with the original team of architects, who designed Chandigarh to share their inputs about the space, its design, original idea.
“As many as 100 people worked here at the time and this place was abuzz with creative activity and energy and that’s the idea of restoring the space, with the Open Hand Art Studios here a step in this direction. Involving the young in inter-disciplinary activities is the way ahead and that’s how Corbusier would have envisioned this centre,” adds Gandhi.
With Corbusier being a multi-faceted personality, an architect, painter, author, designer, the centre strives to be a space for varied visions. Café Corbu is what the restored canteen corner is proposed to be called, with the open and expansive design making space for a small amphitheatre, a performance area and a place for lectures, discussions and a forum for architects to talk about burning issues.
“We are taking photographs of each stage as we work to recreate many elements and it is exciting to view the past unfold before us as we strive to make common people a part of our history and heritage, which is living,” shares Deepika.