Le Corbusier’s Capitol Complex a mess, in dire need of facelift

Damaged facades, violations and poor maintenance of buildings are hampering the most renowned creation of Le Corbusier — the Capitol Complex. The report on Chandigarh Heritage, prepared by the sub-committee for "Identification, Conservation, Management and Maintenance of Chandigarh Heritage" highlights the violations being faced by the Complex.

The Capitol Complex comprises three buildings — Legislative Assembly, Secretariat and High Court. The fourth building, Museum of Knowledge, is yet to be constructed. Monuments at the complex, like Geometric Hill, Tower of Shadows, Open Hand and Martyrs Memorial, are also in a state of neglect.

Secretariat

According to the report, though Le Corbusier's edifice retains some of its pristine majesty, it is under constant threat of abusive tinkering by insensitive users, who are altering its facade with impunity. It added that since they are tenants of the Chandigarh Administration, it should act fast and firm to stem the rot. Due to security reasons, the circulation system at the Secretariat has been reoriented as to nullify Corbusier's concept. Moreover, tents for security personnel give it a "keep-of-me" appearance of a citadel. A shed has been constructed in front of the ramp and additional porch has been added in front of the main block. The verandas have also been covered. Glazing has damaged the facade. Other problems being faced by the building included dumping of garbage and poor maintenance.

Legislative Assembly

The poor condition of roof-terracing has resulted in seepage and leakage, thereby damaging large parts of the ceiling. External changes like painting of the pyramid and weathering of shuttered concrete also plague the building. Internal wooden partitions have been raised in the main foyer. Changes in material of the flooring, additional of partition walls, false ceilings in rooms and corridors and painting of concrete surfaces have been carried out.

High Court

External changes have increased manifold in the courtrooms and has resulted in new constructions — including two and four-storey lawyer chambers, judicial record room, advocate general's block and addition to the extension block. Construction of multi-level parking and other construction is in violation of the original concept. Use of pedestrian plaza for parking the vehicles of judges has necessitated the recarpeting of the concrete floor. Renovation in all courtrooms and judges lounge in the form of false ceilings, wall-to-wall wooden dais, air conditioning and partitions, etc has been carried out. Heritage furniture has been dumped on the terrace of the building.

Monuments

The city's official emblem installed in the Capitol Complex is in need of repair. The 14-metre high hand, weighing around 50 tonnes, is suffering from weathering.

Incomplete projects

The fourth building proposed for the Capitol Complex — the Museum of Knowledge — is yet to see the light of the day. The building was to be the focal point of the complex. The Martyrs' Memorial is incomplete. The sculptures for the memorial are ready but yet to be installed.

Recommendations

* Security arrangements be rationalised and appropriate land developed to accommodate them in a way that these do not create visual blight.

* Cleaning and restoration of concrete surfaces

* Violations like balcony covering, provision of grills be checked

* Proper landscaping in consonance with original concept be undertaken

* No additional buildings, which were not in the original plan, be sanctioned

* Upkeep and maintenance be given to central authority

* Buildings and monuments be completed

* The Plaza area be given a facelift

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