• Chandigarh and Le Corbusier by Remi Papillault: A Book Review

    Chandigarh and Le Corbusier by Remi Papillault weaves together a comprehensive analysis of Chandigarh and the mastermind, architect Le Corbusier. Altrim Publishers published the book, which is a treasure trove of information. It caters to both enthusiasts and professionals who would love to dip their minds into the realm of architecture and urban planning. Chandigarh and Le Corbusier by Remi Papillault did not fail to capture the inquisitive mind of the architect, who let himself delve into the experimental journey of urban planning despite countless failures.

    Chandigarh and Le Corbusier by Remi Papillault

    Modulor scale to Aircraft view

    “Aircraft is the symbol of new times.”  – Le Corbusier

    After his first aircraft journey, Le Corbusier started to see things differently. From his “Modulor” scale to an “Aircraft view”, his gaze expanded. It paved the way for several revelations on humans and their correlation to space. He felt the need “to erect an architecture that fulfils day-to-day function but leads to jubilation.” A glimpse into his aircraft sketches ploughs into his mind, showing its evolution into the human-centric urban plan. Then aged 63, Le Corbusier was facing several issues in his previous urban planning projects like La Rochelle, Marseille, etc.

    Le Corbusier

    Many architects tossed Chandigarh before Le Corbusier. The political unrest in Chandigarh was like an active volcano in the 1950s. Unlike his predecessors, Le Corbusier persevered through all the challenges and controversies. In the final stages, he was even willing to work for free, thus proving his commitment to the project. Le Corbusier visualised a new life for the Architecture of Chandigarh. He saw it as an open space that transcends time and comprehends scalability while making space for future developments.

    The book also includes various architects and engineers involved in the making of the city. While the focus on Le Corbusier’s vision is essential, the book also incorporates the contributions of others such as Maxwell Fry, Jane Drew, and Pierre Jeanneret. Such an approach provides a more holistic understanding of the city’s evolution from bleakness to its continued relevance.

    “Satisfy the spiritual and material needs of man by creating an environment consistent with the social, ethical, aesthetic, and scientific concepts of town planning and architecture.”

    Maxwell Fry, Jane Drew

    Chandigarh and Le Corbusier by Remi Papillault

    Rémi Papillault’s book is not a typical study of the prominent buildings but also captures the backstory of post-independent Chandigarh. His words take one back to the onset of a modern era, an invitation to lose themselves in the old streets. The lush parks take centre stage, with steel and concrete structures peeking through. From the awe-inspiring Capitol Complex to the harmonious residential areas, the book showcases the profound impact of Le Corbusier’s designs on the city’s landscape. The photographs dispersed all over the book are a visual voyage across the well-narrated story.

    The Palace of Assembly

    The narration makes the reader feel curious about its outcome and involved in the project, which makes one forget that it was ever completed. It feels like a trip down a roller coaster, a nail-biting journey of uncertainties, which makes one wonder about its possibility of completion in such a crucial setting. It expressively sheds light on the complexity of transforming visionary blueprints into tangible reality.

    Remi Papillault

    To conclude, Chandigarh and Le Corbusier by Remi Papillault is a captivating and informative book. It offer readers a profound exploration of the relationship between a visionary architect and an iconic city. Just like the newly defined urbanism of a city that never stops growing, the book doesn’t conclude or end on a happily-ever-after note. It keeps the readers hanging by a thread for a split second, then later pulls them back to the now, thus relating to present-day Chandigarh. Thus, the Chandigarh and Le Corbusier by Remi Papillault will remain evergreen and relatable for years and generations to come.

    Text By: Gopika Pramod

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