World famous French architect Le Corbusier, always open for new ideas, was never averse to changes. And with the passage of time, he would have loved to see structural amendments in his work, remarked Michel Richard, director of the Le Corbusier Foundation in Paris recently. On a visit to the City Beautiful to review buildings in the run up to the UNESCO heritage status, Richard stated that those who criticise Corbusier for modern approach should see his fascinating works — mixed with modernity and cultural heritage — in Chandigarh.
Remembering Corbusier, around his birth anniversary falling on October 6, Richard said he was one of the pioneers of what is now called modern architecture, and that nomination of Chandigarh for the heritage status is a very important development for the scholars, architects, amateurs.
In conversation with HT reporter Monica Sharma, the foundation director talked about Corbusier’s most achieved works. Here are the excerpts.
What’s your impression about Chandigarh?
My first impression about the City Beautiful, back in 2007 when I came here for an exhibition, was good. I still find it convincing.
What’s your point of view on Le Corbusier’s architecture?
All his life, Corbusier’s approach was more inclined towards urbanism, and he faced criticism for that too. But his critics should visit Chandigarh to have a glimpse of the architectural work blended with modern art and culture, with a complete focus on greenery and smooth traffic flow.
Your views on changes in Corbusier’s architecture?
Chandigarh, planned way back in 1950s, was built to cater to the needs of around 5 lakh people; with time, the population increases, and so do the needs. The perfect example of the population rise is Paris: You should see the traffic snarls there; constructions and shapes of structures are changing every other day. I believe Corbusier would have loved to see changes in his work.
Your views on the smuggling of Corbusier’s furniture?
Furniture designed by Le Corbusier had arrived in Paris and France many years ago, and I don’t think it’s being smuggled now since we already have a plenty of chairs and tables in France.
How useful is the Le Corbusier architecture in the modern era? I have been associated with the Le Corbusier foundation for many years now. After meeting so many people who lived in the cities and buildings designed by Corbusier, I have found it’s not only the aesthetic and architectural values that matter the most but their usefulness.