In comparison, the footprints of Pierre Jeanneret in Chandigarh are as important as those of his world famous cousin who was called “Le Corbusier”. Pierre remained in Chandigarh as Chief Architect of the Capital Project for 15 long years, creating a language of architecture through art that gave soul to his designs. Chandigarh, the “beautiful city”, has been eloquently defined by Jeanneret’s iconic works of art and architecture.
Jeanneret has used art extensively as an integral part of his designs in places such as Panjab University, MLA hostels, town hall, schools, government housing and private residences to promote their aesthetics and beauty. By closely studying the buildings created by Jeanneret, it can be seen that he instilled an understanding of texture, color and form involving the use of exposed brickwork, stone masonry and concrete. Some of the iconic buildings created by him have now become the hallmark of art and architecture, locally and globally.
Jeanneret believed that art had an important place in architecture. The beauty of structure is that the elements of space, structure and form blend and merge into a single concept of grace and grandeur, effortlessly synchronizing form with function. Its artistic style of porches not only serves a functional reason by keeping the place cooler, but it also serves an aesthetic purpose, glorifying the entrance to the building.
The inverted arches of the portico contrast with the rectilinear rhythm of the front facade of the MLA hostel, the vaulted roof structures of the ‘Centre Le Corbusier’ canteen block and the sweepers’ quarters make their own architectural statement. In fact, the aesthetics of Jeanneret’s creations are a reflection of the beauty of line, shape and form.
The rare gem called Gandhi Bhavan is an example of him treating “structure like a sculpture”. Jeanneret used the innovative technique of casting concrete panels to evoke an abstract floating lotus, marrying angular lines with puffy organic shapes, all set within a large reflective pool of water.
Many intricate and intricate patterns that Jeanneret created in jalliwork, resulting from playing with a brick, convey his understanding of the use of brick as a valuable material in art and architecture. His method of using two or three materials such as brick, stone and plaster surfaces in a single building drifts towards the Corbusian line of thought which favors monochrome effects. As Jeanneret said, “There are no great works or small works: there are only works with or without an aesthetic sense”.
Its trademark windows, the beautiful spiral staircase of the Jeanneret house, Brise-soleil, ornamental concrete parapets, screen designs in a private house, teak handrail of the banister concealed light fixtures, light fixtures, fireplace, the composition of windows and chhajjas creating the wall-like effect of the built mass gives an active visual rhythm to the many and varied architectural forms.
Jeanneret tried to distill function down to its fundamental form. He designed lights for private residences in an artistic way. Jeanerette’s contribution to the decoration of the house is that he shifted the thinking from the notion of luxury to that of culture and refinement.
The funnel-shaped fixture on the exterior of the structure contributes to the overall architectural significance of the Gandhi Bhawan. The luminaire ensured the distribution of lighting over the entire ceiling and its dramatic effect, its reflection in the swimming pool, acting as a “black mirror” at night. The indirect lighting technique adopted by concealing the light source is remarkable.
Jeanneret held Indian craftsmanship in high esteem. He paid close attention to detail and materials, creating his own mashups. He has designed various pieces of furniture like tables, chairs, tools, which are an integral part of Chandigarh Heritage. He said that furniture and buildings go together. Today, not only does his furniture express an essential and eternal depth, but also the pedal boat he built for Lake Sukhna attracts special attention.
Jeanneret displayed his artistic genius by creating magnificent murals with simple materials such as exposed brick. These murals adorn the blank end walls of some buildings in the city. Among them are the MLA Hostel with a modular structure in the southeast wall and the Chandigarh Masterplan in the southwest wall. The sculpture that was designed for the Sector 16 Nursery School was inspired by the large horns of local buffaloes and developed with a rigid mix of concrete and simple scaffolding but no formwork.
In Jeanneret’s works, one can visualize that art and architecture have a high degree of connectivity and co-relation that must be understood, appreciated, valued and promoted to make the architectural profession more meaningful to society. and the community. From the micro level to the macro level of a city, “jeanneretism” is still alive in Chandigarh in its tangibility and intangibility. His art and architecture will forever be etched in the memory of this city he strove to build with a pure heart and mind.
Chitrangada Sharma is an assistant professor at Chandigarh College of Architecture. This is part of the series of bi-monthly articles written by CCA students and faculty on the making of Chandigarh for the LCPJ forum.