Le Corbusier's Chandigarh holding on to its original charisma

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By Sunil Sharma

Chandigarh, May 1 : Chandigarh, the first planned city of India, today presents a picture of a clean and open "garden" city with an array of architectural wonders. And the main credit goes to Le Corbusier and his team.

The Switzerland-born French architect and planner Le Corbusier along with his team who envisioned a functional city divided into sectors.

The 55-year-old city also attracts for the way it has preserved its founder's legacy - his architecture, the furniture and his documents.

Wide roads, a huge green cover and innovative architectural edifices today offer Chandigarh a special place on national scene, as it drives respect for being the first planned city of the country.

Swiss-born French architect Le Corbusier designed the uniform miracle in concrete' style administrative and commercial blocks, whereas his cousin Pierre Jeanneret was responsible for civic architecture.

Every creation by them is priceless. So is the furniture, designed by cousin Pierre Jeanneret.

Not many people, who today enjoy sitting on furniture made by him have no clue of its value.

Pierre's teak V-chairs' will go on sale at the auction house Christie's New York with a reserve of 8,000 dollars to 12,000 dollars.

Vivek Atray, the Director, PR of Chandigarh, says: "These chairs and tables and other items are designed in a way that they blend with Chandigarh, as it was being created with Chandigarh. The budgets available to construct and make buildings was not that much but yet the furniture was of high quality and blended with the environment, the temperature and the conditions here. So I think it was a great experiment and that is why it is so valuable today."

The Sector 19 office of Le Corbusier has now been converted into a museum-cum-exhibition centre to preserve Le Corbusier's rich heritage and legacy.

The exhibition centre will display and showcase the life and works of the French architect to familiarize tourists and future generations with the cultural heritage of the Chandigarh city.

It would focus on preservation, interpretation, research and display of the works and the legacy of Le Corbusier.

But the Chandigarh administration is facing quite a challenge to preserve it all.

V. N. Singh, Nodal Officer, Le Corbusier Centre in Chandigarh, said: "Lot of Le Corbusier's furniture do not exists in Chandigarh and existing in Punjab and Haryana. But, as this museum comes under Chandigarh administration, we have taken a decision to protect the furniture, which is under the Chandigarh.

We can't go to Punjab and Haryana because of not having that much reach. But in Chandigarh we are preserving the available furniture. We are repairing it through our conservation lab. So that we'll be able to showcase them in the museum."

Much of Le Corbusier's belongings including the replicas, letters and documents are also preserved at Chandigarh's Government Museum and Art Gallery.

Though there are very few visitors to witness Le Corbusier' creations and his team's great efforts in building a city, the local residents are proud of this musuem and its invaluable collections.

Navjot Pal Singh Randhawa, Director, Museum and Art gallery in Chandigarh, said: We need to aware people, as even individuals in Chandigarh don't come know about the activities which take place in the museum complex. We are planning put details of the all the museum collection available online. We'll have a virtual museum to start with. And, after that they will definitely come to see the original."

"We also proposed to put up some LCD screens on prominent places telling people of the activities and happenings taking place in the museum for that particular day," said Randhawa.

ANI

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