SUBJECT :World heritage 

 With the Capitol Complex being declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO today, the decision has not only put the city on the world map but has also opened a new era of development for it.

The buildings, designed by Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier, which were under a threat of degradation, will now get world-class protection and funds for conservation. The Administration will have to maintain the buildings under the constant watch of UNESCO. It will also have to create a buffer zone  around  the Capitol Complex to protect it from the ill-effects of other areas.

Le Corbusier began work on the Capitol Complex in 1952. Located in Sector 1, the complex comprises three buildings — the Legislative Assembly, Secretariat and the High Court. All three buildings were constructed over a period of time till 1962.

The fourth building, the Museum of Knowledge, is yet to be constructed. The Administration began efforts to include the name of the city in the world heritage list in 2003. It succeeded in getting the name of the city included in the tentative   list in 2007. 

Two attempts were made  in 2009 and 2011 to get the  name included in the list but the Administration could not succeed for various reasons.   Later, a team under former Chief Architect Sumit Kaur was formed to prepare a dossier in 2012. Sumit Kaur said the dossier was presented in association with France, Switzerland, Belgium, Germany, Argentina and Japan, where works of Corbusier existed. The team had to work hard to ensure that the  dossier presented the universal values of the works of Corbusier.

Monuments symbolise Corbusier’s vision

  • There are various monuments in the Capitol Complex symbolising the philosophy used by Le Corbusier in preparing the design of the city. These monuments are the Open Hand, Path of the Sun (the Geometric Hill), Tower of Shadows and the Martyrs’ Memorial.
  • The Martyrs’ Memorial is dedicated to the martyrs  of the country and comprises a square enclosure with one side elongated into a ramp by which one can mount the enclosing wall. The Geometric Hill is situated adjacent to the memorial. The Tower of Shadows is a demonstration of Corbusier’s theories of sun control, consisting of a series of “platforms oriented to the cardinal points and containing sun breakers on three sides”.  An officer said the Museum of Knowledge would be set up as per the original design of Le Corbusier.  

Years to remember (inauguration)

  • High Court  building 1956
  • Assembly  building 1962
  • Secretariat building 1967

Team effort did the trick

Team effort and sound leadership helped script the heritage success story of the city. Officers worked in unison to make it possible. For Parimal Rai, Adviser to the Administrator, this is the second major achievement after the Smart tag for the city. He worked  behind the scenes and collaborated with ministries. Home Secretary  Anurag Aggarwal, Finance Secretary Sarvjit Singh and Chief Architect Kapil Setia were in touch with officials of the Corbusier Foundation in Paris and countries with whom the transnational dossier was prepared.

French Prez visited complex

The Capitol Complex drew international attention when French President Francois Hollande visited it in January this year to see Le Corbusier’s works. The complex was again in the news when Prime Minister Narendra Modi chose it as the venue for the second International Day of Yoga celebrations on June 21.

Source: The Tribune, Chandigarh