Accepted Paper:

Populating architecture with community: the symbolic integration of stark concrete with everyday life in Chandigarh, India  


Abhik Ghosh (Panjab University)

Paper short abstract:

Chandigarh has been seen as a modernist architecture which may also translate as an art form. When it began to create homes within, the people began to modify this art to suit individual requirements, an issue which is illustrated, discussed and theorised in this paper.

Paper long abstract:

Chandigarh was envisaged and built in the 1950s as an epitome of modernism under the Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru and created by Corbusier, Pierre Jeanneret and others. Their vision saw Chandigarh as a 'modern' architectural wonder, with buildings visualized by the art of their stark beauty in bare concrete without the embellishment of plaster and paint. The issue was that this could be peopled by just about anyone from India and they would find it functional enough to make it their home.

However, the reality was much more difficult than had been portrayed. The architecture-as-art was all right as far as a practical method for housing a population was concerned but as more and more people found the quietness more congenial to settle down in and make it a home, these problems started emerging.

This paper looks into the individualization of such anonymity into a semblance of personal identity through willful changes to the original plans and structures that made up the city of Chandigarh. This will show how art and architecture are looked at by the administration and by the people in power and how such an advertised perspective is different from the non-advertised public interaction with the architecture of the city in everyday life. The interaction of such diverse elements into the architecture has certainly given a newer vision to the idea of the architecture-as-art concept by the people, converting it, as far as was possible, into an architecture for artifice.

Panel P38
Art worlds and the city: perspectives from India and beyond