Is Chandi­garh a fu­ture ready city ?


India Today - - CULTURE -

Opin­ion Why smart city is merely a buzz­word and has out­lived its real in­tent

In the 50s and 60s, a city with big high­ways and high rise build­ings was con­sid­ered an ideal ‘utopian’ model. In the 21st cen­tury, the utopian vi­sion for fu­ture cities has moved to a ‘smart cities’ rhetoric. The key dif­fer­ence lies in the fact that the grand vi­sion is cen­tered on ur­ban de­sign ideas and today, these are be­ing led by big cor­po­rate groups. The eco­nomic and cul­tural changes of the cen­tury are trans­form­ing our cities and the prac­tice of ar­chi­tec­ture dra­mat­i­cally.

The buzz­word ‘smart’ added to the idea of fu­ture cities has been ap­plied to the In­dian con­text with the Modi govern­ment back­ing the ini­tia­tive with no less than 100 smart cities in the next five years. Al­most half of the world’s pop­u­la­tion cur­rently lives in ur­ban cities and by 2050, this statis­tic is pro­jected at 75 per cent.

Chandi­garh was con­ceived in 1951 as Cor­bus­ier’s very own utopia—a new cap­i­tal of the state of Pun­jab as a re­place­ment of La­hore, post the bloody aftermath of the 1947 par­ti­tion. Jawa­har­lal Nehru, while set­ting out the vi­sion stated “Chandi­garh should be a new town, sym­bolic of free­dom of India, un­fret­ted by the tra­di­tions of the past”. The vi­sion was ob­vi­ously grand which was to be trans­lated to ground with mod­ernist the­o­ries of Charles-Édouard Jean­neretGris known by the pseu­do­nym Le Cor­bus­ier. Amer­i­can and Pol­ish ar­chi­tect, plan­ners Al­bert Meyer and Mathew Now­icki also con­trib­uted to the masterplan of this grand In­dian city, to­gether with a bat­tery of In­dian pro­fes­sion­als. Orig­i­nally built for a pop­u­la­tion of half a mil­lion peo­ple, Chandi­garh’s pop­u­la­tion now stands at over 1 mil­lion. The tri-city, as it’s called, which com­prises


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