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Chandigarh High Court - Le Corbusier | by Scott Norsworthy
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Chandigarh High Court - Le Corbusier

After the Partition of India in 1947 which created the sovereign state of Pakistan (and later Bangladesh) from what was once the British Indian Empire, almost 12.5 million people were displaced from their homes, with estimates of the loss of life between several hundred thousand and a million. Punjab, previously an Indian Raj state, was split in half - the mostly Muslim western part became Pakistan's Punjab Province; the predominantly Sikh and Hindu eastern half became India's Punjab state.


When Lahore was given to Pakistan, the need arose to establish a new capital for the Indian State of Punjab (and later, Haryana). Chandigarh, was therefore designed from the ground up to embody hopes and aspirations of the nation's progressive, modern outlook, "unfettered by the traditions of the past, a symbol of the nation's faith in the future," proclaimed Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of indpendent India.


Nehru sought international architects to design the capital in a modern style; although many architects worked on the mammoth project of designing the new capital, Le Corbusier is most often credited as the mastermind behind Chandigarh. His personal contributions include the overall master-planning of the city into 'sectors', and the design of the major "public" buildings in Sector 1, including the High Court, Assembly, Secretariat, and the Museum and Art Gallery.


The High Court houses 9 courts of law and the required administrative and support units - besides the macro-scale architecutre, Corbusier also undertook the design of furniture, light fittings, and 9 large tapestries, one for each court.


The distinctively Corbusian brise-soleil shields the glazed facade from the harsh Indian sun, an attempt to negotiate the climate issue with passive mechanisms to avoid a reliance on mechanical systems. Today, the interior court rooms are completely air conditioned.

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Taken on June 30, 2010