Kaimbwala-Sukhna Ecological Zone

A part of the CUL2014 proposal, an interdisciplinary group of students from Urban Design and Planning and Architecture developed a proposal for an ecological zone centered on Chandigarh’s Sukhna Lake, the reserved forest and the agricultural lands in between centered on Kaimbwala village. Tremendous work by Michelle Rostami, Lynn Fredenburg and Greta Tjelveit.

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Deruralization studies: Patiali-ki-Rao, an intermittent river at the edge of Chandigarh

Here is some amazing work done by the CCA students Mahavir Singh and Divya Khurana (CUL2014), on the Patiali-ki-Rao, one of the two intermittent rivers that naturally defined the East and West edges of the Chandigarh (with the Shivalik Hills to the North). Today these intermittent rivers are under seige, as the growth of Chandigarh has made them, and their ecology, intra-urban. But not quite fully urban, but no longer rural either.

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Capitol and its Northern Periphery – site analysis

Capitol Aerial with Himalayas

Site analysis can of course be done in many different registers. Taking the cue from Le Corbusier, we have choses to work in two modes – the aerial mode, looking at things from the sky, essentially using the visual resources of Google Earth; and then the moving human eye-level view conducting through site visits, both as a group and individually as per our areas of focus. (While designint he Capitol Le Corbusier spoke of working in plan within the 800 meter and 400 meter squares, and at the same time he carefully studied the placement of the buildings by sketching them on site – ‘the question of optics’ as he called it.) Our site analysis in this sense is an interpellation between the aerial and the human eye level, and an interpellation across 90 degrees, which is also of course Cubism 101.

The site reveals a fragile ecological (im)balance. The planners always describe Chandigarh as located on an ideal 2 degree slope, perfect for drainiage, a consequence, supposedly, of its location at the very foothills of the Himalayas. While this description is functionally true (the site where Chandigarh is built does benefit from the 2 percent grade, but the conditions that create this grade are under-comprehended.

In fact, Chandigarh does NOT sit at the foothills of the Himalayas per se. The main Himalayan mountain range ends just north of the Chandigarh site, defined by, and draining into, the Ghagger River that emerges into the plains just to the East of the Chandi­garh site. After the Ghagger, lies the dimunitive Shivalik Range of Hills which is what Chandigarh edges. The Shivaliks are not like the Himalayas in that they are not a consequence of the rising of the Indian plate as a consequence of its collision with Asia 40 million years ago. Rather, the Shivaliks are created by the local rivers of the Himalayas – essentially the tributaries of the Ghagger and the Setluj – as the deposits of alluviam that they have carted down from the Himalayas. These alluvial deposits – i.e. the Shivaliks – are then broken down by the intermittent rivulets that run down them and converted in the fine alluvial plain that is the Chandigarh site. The Shivalik Hills, in other words, are simply holding stations, temporary mounds, that are constantly being broken down to create the great Indo-Gangetic plains on which Chandigarh is site. It is only because they are persistently replenished with new alluvium from the Himalayan rivers that they do not vanish completely. And of course this cycle proceeds at a geological pace that is quite rapid as far as geological time is concerned, but imperceptible to the human sense of time.

What, then, are the consequences of this ecology for Chandigarh, and in particular for the Capitol Complex and its northern periphery – that is the primary question.


“Chandigarh Master Plan 2031 Draft” is now published!

The long anticipated Chandigarh Master Plan 2031 Draft has just been published online by Chandigarh Administration. It is in the comment period right now [NO LONGER - edited], so please study it and send comments.

This Master Plan will form the springboard for our work in Chandigarh Urban Lab 2014.

You can also download the whole document (128MB)from the following link.

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Vikramāditya Prakāsh’s lecture on Deruralization-Chandigarh at Harvard, February 2013.

Vikramāditya Prakāsh’s presentation on the work of the Chandigarh Urban Lab at Harvard in February 2013 is now available online. Introduced by Rahul Mehrotra, Chair of Urban Design at the GSD.

Rahul Mehrotra introducing Vikram Prakash



Architecture of Shivdatt Sharma by Vikramaditya Prakash

Architecture of Shivdatt Sharma by Vikramaditya Prakash

First book of the Modernism in India Series Architecture of Shivdatt Sharma (Mapin Publishing Ahmedabad, India) is released, by Mr. K. K. Sharma, Adviser to the Administrator, Chandigarh Administration. Guest of Honor M. N. Sharma, Former Chief Architect, Chandigarh.

WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 5, 2012 at Chandigarh College of Architecture


Role of S&M cities in the Arab Spring

“On the 17th of December 2010 Muhammed Bouazizi set himself on fire and precipitated protests that spread throughout Tunisia and then the region. Bouazizi’s protest suicide took place not in Tunis but four hours further south in the small city of Sidi Bouzid. The subsequent protest spread first to another small city, Menzel Bouzayane; demonstrations in Tunis did not start until a week later.”

HERE is a good discussion on this.


S and M Urbanism

Small and mid-sized cities are where most of the urban growth will take place in the coming decades. Yet literature tends to focus only on X and XL cities. Mega-cities, I would submit, capture the Western imagination, and the academic imagination, like S and M cities don’t.

HERE is my blog entry on this.


Should Chandigarh have an elected administration?

Its mostly in Hindi and Panjabi, but this is a good discussion on representative democracy, and lack of, in Chandigarh. Historical issues, specifically the creation of Punjabi suba in 1965, and the 1984 removal of position of the Chief Commissioner in the “terrorism days”, are factors in why there is no representative government in Chandigarh today. ALso revealing is that the budget of Chandigarh is a whopping 3,900 crore rupees = $780 million. Not bad at all – a very pampered city. The city of Seattle, by comparison, has a budget of about $950 million!