Chandigarh: the planned modernist city of India, designed by one of the greatest architects of the 20th Century: Le Corbusier

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The Brutalist materiality in a few of Chandigarh’s most iconic Architectural Marvels showcases his design influences. With the Masterplan for the city developed in 1951, the city has been called an experiment of modern urbanism.

The city has gained recognition of becoming the Mecca for architects world over, representative of Corbusier’s urban planning theories, design philosophies, and master architectural works.

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Planning for an Architecture_©Sanyam Bahga https://en.wikipedia.org

However, a relatively unknown and underappreciated fact is the successful attempt Corbusier made for establishing the Chandigarh College of Architecture, Chandigarh. A pivotal component of his Chandigarh Experiment focussed on imparting education in Architecture. 

The institute’s establishment was on August 7, 1961; situated in the Educational Zone of the city. The institution aimed at developing and utilizing the potential of the location; to provide academic programs wherein professionals trained in the tradition of modern urbanism, impart learnings from the tenets of the designer and founder himself; and extend the spectrum of creativity in pursuit of serving the people; aesthetically, comprehensively, and efficiently; ranking it among the top 3 architectural institutions in the nation since 2012.

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20th Century Brutal Modernism_©http://cca.edu.in/home

Courses Offered by the Institution

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The two main courses offered at the Chandigarh College of Architecture, Chandigarh, are the: 5-Year Bachelor of Architecture program, with an annual intake of 40 students every year; and the 2-Year Masters of Architecture program affiliated to and approved by the Punjab University Faculty of Design and Fine Arts, Chandigarh; the Council of Architecture (CoA), India and the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), India.

The B.Arch course has had a semester system in place since 1972, and a two-tier scheme since the 1985-86 academic session; with the 10-semester course split into two stages. 

Stage One is from the first to sixth semester (3 years): consisting of theoretical subjects, tutorials, introduction to theory and application of Basic Design, exercises in critical appreciation, workshop, practice, and studio work for an understanding of architectural knowledge, tools, and skills. 

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Stage Two is from the seventh to the tenth semester (2 years). It consists of a six-month practical training followed by multiple elective courses and studies of urban design, professional practice, town planning, and a final Research or Design Dissertation thesis in which a student gets a chance to handle all phases of architectural design.

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Studio Learning Experience_©Hans Jan Dürr    https://www.flickr.com/photos/durr-architect/12159379204

This attempt ranges from the choice of the subject of the thesis, case/prototype/library studies, analysis, identification/statement of the problem and therefore the objectives to the formulation of client’s, architect’s brief and hence to the design and style solution. In 1998, the program introduced interdisciplinary programs, like building automation and sustainable design.

The M.Arch course consists of 4 semesters, from the first to the third semester (1.5 years), advanced architectural knowledge is imparted, culminating in the final fourth semester: the Design Dissertation Thesis Project.

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To apply at the University, B.Arch aspirants have to give and pass the Joint Entrance Exam (JEE) Main 2- for Architecture; followed by Joint Admission Committee (JAC) Chandigarh Counselling. The students who apply must have 10+2 merit and post the JEE exam, partake in the JAC process, which consists of registration, application correction, choice filling, mock counselling, and seat allotment process; depending on which, students will be given admission. There are five seats reserved for students from the Northeast, due to the lack of architectural education facilities they have locally, and emphasizes providing architectural education, for the north-western region of India. For M.Arch, B.Arch graduates are open to apply.

Extracurricular activities

Chandigarh College of Architecture, Chandigarh resides in a sizeable area and has space for open grounds, which serve as spaces for co-curricular activities, sports & games. The institution also has the facility for a gymnasium and a walking trail, situated around the boundary wall of the college campus.

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The institute has a student body: Chandigarh Association of Student-Architects (CASA), to promote student welfare and co-curricular activities; which is associated with the National Association of Students of Architecture (NASA), a committee that holds an annual convention comprising design and studio-work competitions, exhibitions, literary, and cultural events.

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Open Ground and Green Spaces_©https://www.shiksha.com/college/chandigarh-college-of-architecture-3568

Corbu Day: the annual founders day, is celebrated on October 6th; the birthdate of Le Corbusier, via guest lectures given by well-known architects, along with the giving of awards and scholarships to meritorious students.

Archo: is the annual college fest held in March comprises an inter-house competition amongst the four houses of the institution; wherein students participate in cultural, sports, and design events over two weeks.

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Work scenario

The institute’s mission is to train students to be sensitized to design the buildings/infrastructure in the town and cities in a more sustainable way. It aims to provide an opportunity for students to study in a government institution under the mentorship of a well-qualified and experienced faculty with specializations in diverse fields. 

Several visiting scholars from  India and foreign universities visit the institute for research and serve as external resource faculty and expert jury members for the course examinations.

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The Chandigarh College of Architecture, Chandigarh uses its “Chandigarh Experiment” as a pedagogical approach to drive Corbusier’s philosophy and ideology. The college draws examples from the structures designed by Corbusier and his Associates, to instill a learning methodology specific to the city.

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Exhibition held at the College during September 2019_©https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/archive/lifestyle/for-the-love-of-architecture-828178

Given that Chandigarh may be a growing city and a constant work in progress, existing projects are used as case studies to draw inferences and learnings within architecture and concrete planning. These studies are documented and presented at national and international architectural forums either as studies by students or papers by faculty; published in various media.

The Institute collaborates with the Department of Urban Planning of the Chandigarh Administration, by participating in live architectural and concrete planning problems with the town, exposing them to measure problems, situations, and circumstances, thereby putting the scholars and school to figure on them; and establishing a symbiotic role.

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Student Hostel Block_©https://www.careers360.com/colleges/chandigarh-college-of-architecture-chandigarh

The college attempts to diversify aspects of the profession by training the students to work with equal facilities in all situations, having a belief that premier educational institutions have a role that extends beyond the “Transfer of Knowledge” to a continuous “Creation of Knowledge”. People, places, objects, and events are thus the parameters for preaching instructions in architecture. 

Through the promotion and support of extensive research and documentation projects, results of which are published for scholars in India and abroad; the institute is achieving its objective. In addition to the above, the involvement of members of the faculty and the students in numerous consultancy projects helps in building awareness of this extended role at all levels.

Student environment

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The Chandigarh College of Architecture, Chandigarh has an area of 9.5 acres with facilities for co-curricular activities, a girl’s and a boy’s hostel. 

A set of two independent blocks adjacent to the main college building are held together by a vast landscaped open deck space. 

The front block has facilities for recreation, lounging, and spaces for indoor games, besides having a canteen, and toilets. It is partially sunken, allowing for decks and mezzanine levels.

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Open Learning and Elements of Interaction_©http://cca.edu.in/page/Supporting_Infrastructure

The institute has a student computer lab, library, smart classrooms, studios, and workshop facilities, with the College Library situated in the heart of the campus. Collaborations with leading International architectural institutions and their students are done as well in the institute.

The “cube” is a space situated at the rear block of the students’ centre: a former storage shed turned into an informal studio space for students in 2010, by the students of the institute themselves. It is another one of the independent blocks, along with the “common room” developed as a 24-hour working space for students as and when required by them, for working on NASA trophies and thesis. 

In conclusion, the Chandigarh College of Architecture, Chandigarh enforces the academic ideology of architecture as an ambient social art, that seeks to provide comprehensive service to humankind by meeting the complex challenges of modern life; hence, making it the Mother of all Arts. The institute resourcefully utilizes its location and history, to its advantage, via integrating the city and its spaces with the course curriculum and learnings. Therefore, the CCA is a university that one must consider to pursue their architectural endeavours; as one is bound to learn more than they are taught and be inspired to a great level.

References

Chandigarh College of Architecture (2020). Chandigarh College of Architecture. [online]. (Last updated 2020). Available at: http://cca.edu.in/page/Chandigarh_College_of_Architecture [Accessed 2 August 2021].

Chandigarh College of Architecture (2020). Academic Ideology. [online]. (2020). Available at: http://cca.edu.in/page/Academic_Ideology [Accessed 2 August 2021].

Chandigarh College of Architecture (2020). Preamble, Inception and Brief History. [online]. (2020). Available at: http://cca.edu.in/page/Preamble_Inception_and_Brief_History [Accessed 3 August 2021].

Chandigarh College of Architecture (2020). Preamble, Inception and Brief History. [online]. (2020). Available at: http://cca.edu.in/page/Academic_Infrastructure [Accessed 3 August 2021].

Chandigarh College of Architecture (2020). Academic Infrastructure. [online]. (2020). Available at: http://cca.edu.in/page/Academic_Infrastructure [Accessed 3 August 2021].

Chandigarh College of Architecture (2020). Supporting Infrastructure. [online]. (2020). Available at: http://cca.edu.in/page/Supporting_Infrastructure [Accessed 3 August 2021].

Chandigarh College of Architecture (2020). Course Structure. [online]. (2020). Available at: http://cca.edu.in/page/Course_Structure [Accessed 3 August 2021].

The Times of India (2013). CCA: Fountainhead of Corbusier’s vision. [online]. (27 May 2013). Available at: https://archive.ph/20130629121532/http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-05-27/chandigarh/39556930_1_cca-le-corbusier-fountainhead#selection-831.0-831.12 [Accessed 3 August 2021].

Shiksha.com (2019). Chandigarh College of Architecture Cutoff. [online]. (18 December 2020). Available at:https://www.shiksha.com/college/chandigarh-college-of-architecture-3568/cutoff [Accessed 5 August 2021].

Author

A final year architecture student, currently studying in SVKM-NMIMS Balwant Sheth School of Architecture, Mumbai, he has allied interests towards architectural photography and writing. Having a penchant for films and philosophy as well, he is of the belief that architecture and design have the ability to capture the most pivotal moments in life itself.

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