A museum for the man who designed Chandigarh

September 1st, 2008 - 12:14 pm ICT by IANS  

Chandigarh, Sep 1 (IANS) A museum and research centre is to come up here to showcase the talent of Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier, the man who designed Chandigarh. It will be the sixth such centre in the world.Le Corbusier designed the northern Indian city - one of the few planned cities in India - in the 1950s and now people can gain first hand knowledge of his designs, maps and original works at the centre dedicated to him.

“The Chandigarh administration has decided to set up a `Le Corbusier museum and research centre’ at the old architect building in Sector 19, which was the office of the city’s architect,” Vidya Nand Singh, the nodal officer of this project, told IANS.

“Students and scholars from all over the world can come here and do research on the works and lifestyle of Le Corbusier,” Singh said.

The Le Corbusier centre in Chandigarh will be the sixth centre in the world and the second such in India as we also have a museum in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, devoted to him, said Singh.

He said: “The office of Le Corbusier was designed by himself and he sat there while conceptualizing the city beautiful almost six decades ago. We have not interfered with this office till date and everything including furniture, book shelf, windows, cupboards and even the floor are the same as they were in the 1950s.”

“The building is designed in such a manner that the temperature inside the rooms does not go beyond 35 degrees Celsius in summers and does not go below 10 degrees Celsius in winters. We do not need any air conditioner or any artificial light here,” he said.

Other centres devoted to Le Corbusier are Foundation Le Corbusier in Paris, France; Centre Le Corbusier, Zurich in Switzerland; Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal, Canada; and Museum of Architecture and Design in Chicago in the US.

“We will take help and assistance from those people who have worked with him in his office. Small-scale movable articles like furniture, small carpets and other related things, either used by Le Corbusier or created in his time, will be restored and displayed here,” said Singh, who is former director of the Chandigarh museum.

He added that the principles of design used in Chandigarh would also be explained so that the cultural and heritage value of the city and the contribution of its architect could be promoted at an international level.

The display gallery will be used to explain the history of buildings of the city during Le Corbusier’s time - from 1951 to 1965. There will be no entry fee.

In the research section of the centre, there will be printed materials, publications, posters, archival records and reference and digital library. The library will be connected with various international centres and foundations of Le Corbusier through internet.

Le Corbusier designed and constructed buildings throughout Europe, India (in Chandigarh and Ahmedabad), and one each in North and South America. He was an urban planner, painter, sculptor, writer and modern furniture designer.

“Visitors can also browse through any visual and textual information related to Le Corbusier through the computerized information bank. They can also download this data free for their reference purpose,” said Singh.

The centre will be divided into six sections portraying the archival records, original plans, elevations, sketches and studies, maps and models, documents, photographs and furniture. Three rooms will serve as reception, reference and digital library with internet facility.

“We will establish a ‘Chandigarh heritage conservation cell’ for monitoring the conservation activity within the city. The materials that will be displayed in the centre will be collected on a permanent loan basis from various public, private and international institutions,” he said.

The open courtyard would be used for the temporary exhibitions to promote ancient, medieval and contemporary art and architecture in the region.

“We will disseminate knowledge regarding the history and heritage of Chandigarh, with a special emphasis on the role of Le Corbusier in the making of the city. We will organise permanent as well as temporary exhibitions, film shows, public seminars and workshops,” said Singh.

A website, www.lecorbusiercentrechd.org, is under construction and will be ready soon.

“Foundation Le Corbusier in Paris has extended its help to the Chandigarh administration for the development of the centre here,” said an official.

“We have prepared a blueprint of the project and will inaugurate the centre in October 2008,” the official said.

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