Threat to Architectural Legacy:Capitol Complex being tampered with

 

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City might lose its stake to be nominated for the UNESCO’s World Heritage status.

The basic character of the Capitol Complex may soon fade out, so it seems if the alterations being done on this “core zone” are any indication.

Cocking a snook at the Chandigarh Heritage regulations, the rooftops of all the three main architectural masterpieces, designed by Le Corbusier in Sector 1 Capitol Complex – the Secretariat, the Legislative Assembly and the High Court – are being “tempered” with by applying paint on them.

If experts are to be believed, Chandigarh might lose its stake to be nominated for the UNESCO’s World Heritage status.

When the Tribune team visited the spot, it was observed that the silver-white paint was applied on the cupola parabola extending above the roofline of the Legislative Assembly.

Former principal, Chandigarh College of Architecture, and Doctorate of Architectural Legacy of Chandigarh S.S. Bhatti criticised the “irresponsible” act of the authorities.

“All the creations of Le Corbusier have been developed with instructions to use settled concrete. He had stressed that the building should not be touched up with any external material to maintain architectural finesse. Using any other material such as paint is to clearly ruin the unique architectural legacy of modern times,” he said.

To preserve the tinge of Le Corbusier touch, the Chandigarh Heritage rules demand that no intervention of any sort will be allowed in areas and buildings included in the core zones, but efforts would be made to conserve them without changing its basic character.

All interventions in the core zones, like Capitol Complex, is monitored by the Heritage Committee which, besides key functionaries of the administration, including representatives from the Archaeological Survey of India, Le Corbusier Foundation and the office of UNESCO in India.

Chief Engineer Krishanjit Singh, when contacted, expressed ignorance about this development at Capitol Complex. “It’s not in my knowledge. I am out of the city. I will inquire into the matter when I return,” said Krishanjit, before referring to ask the XEN, CP Division No 6, Balwan Singh.

But Balwan Singh preferred keep mum on the issue. He assured to speak later but did not pick the phone despite repeated attempts.

The lackadaisical attitude of the administration could well be imagined from the fact that after failing to submit the nomination for this coveted status on time, the administration, apparently, is still leaving no stone unturned to walk off the race for World Heritage status.

It is pertinent to mention that only those countries that have signed the World Heritage Convention and pledged to protect their original cultural heritage would be eligible to submit nomination proposals for properties on their province to be considered for UNESCO’s world heritage list.

Chandigarh is the only place where a complete plan of urban settlement was implemented as envisioned by Le Corbusier. “Nowhere else in the world are such hallowed shrines as in Chandigarh, and it is the duty of the administration to preserve their sanctity,” said Bhatti.

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