Rajnish Wattas | At the time of Independence of India in 1947, there were hardly any well trained architects or city planners in the country. Yet, the newly independent country aspired to undertake ambitious urbanisation and building programmes.
While on its northern city, the new capital city of Chandigarh was planned by the Swiss-born French architect-planner Le Corbusier; on its western flank the rich and for ward-looking textile mill owners and scientists based in Ahmedabad wanted to invite the best of foreign talent to build many of their key institutional buildings, museums and private residences. In the process, besides Corbusier, Louis Kahn, the American architect already building the new parliament complex at Dacca in neighbouring Bangladesh (then East Pakistan) was also assigned numerous projects in the city.
While Corbusier, known to be “master of the form” creating powerful vocabulary of monumental sculptural buildings with raw concrete, was asked to build the iconic Mill Owners Building there, Kahn was invited to design the prestigious Indian Institute of Management, IIM.
Where as Corbusier explored the plasticity of concrete, the formal geometry of order and the logic of precision, Kahn too had a penchant for the monumental. But he preferred more muted forms, created with the earthy building material of the age-old humble “brick”.
Both the Masters were genius who created poetry of light and shadows, play of mass and void and evoked timelessness of the ancient through their architecture.
This article examines the core ethos that underlined their respective architectural styles, choice of building materials and the creative expression manifested by them. A large number of young Indian architects who trained with them, along with numerous others were influenced by their iconic works. The great contribution of both Le Corbusier and Louis Kahn in ushering Modernism in India and the legacy they left behind needs to be celebrated and analysed.
My Teacher - Louis I. Kahn
Roy Vollmer | “My Teacher - Louis I. Kahn”, by former Kahn student and associate, Roy Vollmer, offers a memorable, personal experience of Kahn’s philosophical teaching at the University of Pennsylvania and working closely with Kahn and staff in the Philadelphia office. The author participated in several notable Kahn projects illustrated with photographs, models, sketches and anecdotes. Vollmer also set up Kahn’s architectural office for construction of The Second Capital Project in Dacca, East Pakistan -now Dhaka, Bangladesh- which involved difficult working conditions with limited resources in a poor country but manifested miraculous results.