Wisdom, rationality, fortitude and infectious optimism are undeniably the traits that could be attributed to the inspiring persona of Shivdatt Sharma, 80, one of the country's most prolific modernist architects.
Dr Vikramaditya Prakash, world-renowned historian and urbanist, has now encapsulated the marathon contribution of Sharma in his book, The Architecture of Shivdatt Sharma, which was released on Wednesday at the Chandigarh College of Architecture by UT advisor, KK Sharma. "Sharma's architecture is a distinct blend of the core principles of modernism, interpreted through the lens of contemporary Indian realities. Modernism was adopted as both symbol and instrument of nation building in Nehruvian India.
Working alongside designers and artists, architects went to work building innumerable small townships, universities, public institutions, housing estates and infrastructural projects across the country," commented Prakash at the event.
Sharing his working experience with the legendary architect, Le Corbusier, in whose team Sharma began his career as an architect, he said while beaming in reverence, "Corbusier's celestial genius in architecture was perceptible in every line he drew, a marvel of thought provoking modern concept yet simple in style.
In view of the manifold growth in population, vehicles and business establishments - all calling for compatible infrastructure of residential, educational, healthcare and others - the city is struggling to cope up with the original Le Corbusier concept of the unique city beautiful."
Born in Sialkot (now in Pakistan), and educated at Milan in Italy, Shivdatt Sharma started his career as an architect in the Chandigarh Capital Project Team that was led by French architect Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret, both epoch making masters in their realm. By dint of hard work and devotion, Sharma subsequently became chief architect of the Indian Space Research Organisation before delving in private practice.
Some of his recent projects in Chandigarh include the Eye Care Centre, Pediatric Centre and the OPD blocks of PGIMER (Post Graduate Institute of Medical Institution and Research) Chandigarh; Institute of Microbial Technology, Chandigarh; National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education & Research, SAS Nagar, and Entrepreneur Development Centre, IT Park, Chandigarh.
About the author
Dr Vikramaditya Prakash is an authority on modernism, global history and Indian architecture, and has published six books including one called Chandigarh's Le Corbusier apart from co-authoring A Global History of Architecture. Prakash is also the director of the Chandigarh Urban Lab, a multi-year project to research the trajectory of small and mid-sized cities of India in the age of globalisation.
Prakash has earned his Bachelor of Architecture from the illustrious Chandigarh College of Architecture, and a Masters of Arts and PhD from Cornell University, US. After teaching at CEPT (Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology) University, Ahmedabad, and Arizona State University, Tempe, US, he joined the University of Washington in Seattle in 1996, where is he is currently a professor of Architecture. Prakash also has additional adjunct appointments in the university in the departments of landscape architecture and urban design and planning.
He is also a partner in the Verge Architecture, a firm dedicated to sustainable and relevant design solutions in a changing world that is co-located in Seattle, US, and Chandigarh.