Saturday, November 6, 2010

Growing Cities

The Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, Said, “The site chosen is free from the existing encumbrances of old towns and old traditions. Let it be the first expression of our creative genius flowing on our newly earned freedom. Let it be a new town symbolic of the freedom of India unfettered by the traditions of the past and expression of the nation's faith in the future.”

The Prime Minister’s statement expresses his desire for Chandigarh to be one of the most beautiful cities in India. After achieving independence in 1947, the Indian government started looking for a city planner who could work on the master plan of the new capital. Lieutenant Colonel Albert Mayer was an architect from New York who had experience in town planning. He was chosen to work on the master plan along with Matthew Nowicki, but unfortunately the project was not completed due to Nowicki’s death in airplane crash. Then the architect Le Corbusier, a Swiss-born French citizen, came along and took charge of developing the master plan. Focusing on the monumental Capital Complex, Le Corbusier explained that is was important to include 240 acres of the city itself in the master plan as a place to work and live within. The master plan had two phases, the first was to plan for a population of 150,000, while the second phase took the population to half a million.

The master plan was divided into units, which Le Corbusier called sectors. Sector 1 represents the highest point of the site which where the capital is located. Sector 7 represents the lowest point. All the sectors were linked by a road and path network. The whole city was then divided into a rectangular pattern that embodies the same concept of the seven sectors, labeling each rectangular shape in the pattern a sector. The sectors measure approximately 2600ft x 4000ft, and each one is considered a self-sufficient neighborhood because they include a combination of mixed-use buildings, places of worship, and schools—each of which are located within a ten minute walking distance from each sector.

Le Corbusier will always be remembered for his design of the Capital Complex, which consists of the three monumental buildings in sector one: the Secretariat, the Assembly, and the High Court. An urban plan such as Chandigarh successfully supports a population of 900,635 (2001 census).

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