Veteran, Indo-Australian Architect, conducts exhaustive study on Chandigarh

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NewZNew (Chandigarh) : Is Chandigarh changing? Dr. Anil Singh Thakur, an Architect & City Planner has proved it has transformed & that too beyond the Le Corbusier model. Dr. Thakur is an eminent & highly decorated Architect & is in Chandigarh where he shared details about his research work done for over 7 years full-time attendance, at The University of Melbourne, Australia. During the time of his research he made 14 trips to Chandigarh.

Said Dr. Thakur, “I have studied nine sectors of Chandigarh including areas like Lake, city centre , erstwhile colonies of sector 25 (Janta and Kumhar colonies), markets of Sector  22, 15, Furniture Market, Industrial Area(s), villages Buterla and Badhedi (Sector- 41) and avenues and roundabouts. I discovered that Chandigarh’s character and fabric has changed significantly and this is because of an-interplay between Chandigarh Administration (CA) and stake holders, struggling classes;  and micro politics of the place. Globalisation and changing economy too has been responsible for the transformations. My account is based on more than 350 interviews of city stakeholders including marginal migrant workers & my recorded observations.”

Another finding is that contrary to common belief that the city is planned to minute details, significant contents of it like the Lake, Industrial areas, Roundabouts, Specialised Markets, Rehri markets have risen by proxy or as afterthought features. The city is therefore actually a product of many Co-authorships and not just of Le Corbusier. What’s more, all these areas have found space beyond the Master-plan. Now, under the CA’s Change of Land Use Policy (CLUP) ‘industrial use’ includes functions such as hospitality & commercial. The successive conversions point to forces like growing consumerism and people’s changing lifestyles that undermine the planning instruments and their intents.

Moreover, the important aspect touched upon in detail in the research of Dr. Thakur is the circumstantial trifurcation of Punjab into present states of Punjab, Haryana & Himachal. Dr. Thakur feels that this played an overwhelming role in demolishing Le Corbusier’s vision for the future growth of the city. The Chandigarh Periphery Control Act vs. upcoming of Panchkula, Mohali and now New Chandigarh and Baddi in the adjoining states has been much talked about in the project. In a pivotal finding the incontestable centrality of the city as perceived by Le Corbusier has been either capitalised, or diffused and interfered by the unsynchronised & in a way opportune townships. Says Dr. Thakur, “On the surface Chandigarh may look stoic & a pretty stable city due to its well defined sectoral geometric configuration, in reality however it is now a multi-layered  city comprising many worlds, such as of the: affluent & poor; and metamorphosing cultures.” The report says that evidently Le Corbusier’s grand designs & ideas were thwarted by the realities of place & times. Adds Dr. Thakur, “The studied, villages turned out to be quite self organised without or with little help from the Corporation or Administration. Land was sold here by original owners & gradually hundreds of rooms were created for migrants under different regional & caste groups.”

He concludes thus, “Nehru posed his faith in the modern civilization and foresaw the bright side of future Indian modernity in it by incepting Chandigarh, and now Modi Government’s resolve to build more than 100 smart cities (a combine  of modern and virtual worlds)  and to turn Chandigarh  into one heralds a new era for the city.” Many books & loads of literature have been written about Le Corbusier and Chandigarh but Dr Thakur’s study has analysed aspects outside of the Le Corbusier vision & focused on how Chandigarh has lived, its everyday life.