Chandigarh: UNESCO may greenlight three scrapped Capitol Complex projects
In September, UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee had suspended Chandigarh administration’s three projects for impacting the overall universal value of Capitol Complex, a UNESCO world heritage site
Three months after the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO suspended three key projects at Capitol Complex in Sector 1, the panel has agreed to reconsider its decision.
On Friday, the panel’s decision was discussed in detail by UNESCO delegates during the 7th International Standing Conference of architectural works of Le Corbusier, hosted by Chandigarh administration. A representative of UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee had joined in via video conferencing.
A senior UT officer, who was part of the conference, said, “We took up the issue of suspended projects and the committee representative asked us to submit the revised draft on why we need the projects and assured that the committee will take up the issue in the next meeting scheduled in June 2024.”
In September, UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee had suspended UT administration’s three projects for impacting the overall universal value (OUV) of Capitol Complex, a UNESCO world heritage site.
The projects included an underground multi-level parking lot; holistic development plan for Punjab and Haryana high court; and AC chiller plants. The decision was based on the negative impacts identified in the heritage impact assessment. Alternative locations and solutions that did not impact the OUV were sought.
At the conference, UT chief engineer CB Ojha had given a detailed presentation on the conservation of Capitol Complex and another presentation on the heritage impact assessment was given by the Chandigarh College of Architecture.
Last month, the high court had directed the central government to conduct a heritage assessment through IIT Roorkee as part of the high court’s holistic development plan. The UT has already prepared a heritage impact assessment report on the underground parking project and holistic development of the high court complex. The UT has indicated no objection to the holistic development plan for the multi-level underground parking, provided it is approved by the Centre. However, the suggested changes in the plan may impact the heritage status.
Designed by Le Corbusier, Capitol Complex features three pillars of democracy – legislature, executive and judiciary – standing together.
A prime manifestation of Chandigarh’s architecture, with the Shivalik hills in the backdrop, the Capitol Complex comprises the Open Hand monument, Punjab and Haryana high court, Tower of Shadows, Geometric Hill, the legislative assembly and the secretariat.
The three projects in a nutshell
Underground multilevel parking lot
The proposal includes a multi-level basement parking with three underground floors to accommodate over 2,800 cars in the first phase and up to 5,000 cars in the second phase. The ground level of the parking lot was planned as a green area.
Holistic development of high court complex
The proposal envisions multi-storey buildings to cater to the additional space requirements, considering the daily influx of over 10,000 lawyers, 3,300 court employees, and numerous litigants, along with around 10,000 cars and two-wheelers.
AC chiller plant
The plan involves the construction of an AC chiller plant to replace the window and split AC units, aiming to provide a cleaner appearance to the Capitol Complex.