Preamble, Inception and Brief History

About Chandigarh

Academic Ideology


Preamble, Inception and Brief History

  Chandigarh the largest and the most daring experiment in modern urbanism has become the Mecca for architects from all over the world. Chandigarh’s pre-eminence as an International City rests largely on the world renowned architect Le Corbusier; who developed its master plan in 1951, based on his urban planning theories and his masterly architectural works.

What is not so well known is the fact that the 20th century's greatest architect also succeeded in getting Chandigarh College of Architecture (CCA) established as an integral part of the great Chandigarh Experiment. His conviction was that the creation of built environment, however brilliant and consequential, cannot be fully grasped- much less perpetuated if the principles regulating its concept are not properly understood through study of various components of the city in use.

CCA aims at developing its unique inherent potential and location and to inspire, support, sustain and continue academic programs whereby professionals trained in the tradition of modern urbanism ushered in by the incomparable master- could extend the frontiers of Creativity in the pursuit of serving the Family of Man -- efficiently, comprehensively, beautifully.  The Chandigarh College of Architecture (CCA) was established on 7th August 1961 and was set up as a part of the great Chandigarh Experiment to impart education in Architecture.

About Chandigarh

 Conceptualized as a symbol of India 's new freedom, democracy and its progressive thinking, Chandigarh was to be in Nehru's words "a new city unlettered by the traditions of the past. expression of the nation's faith in the future. Chandigarh one of the most significant urban planning experiments of the 20th century, is the only one of the numerous urban planning schemes of Le Corbusier, the famous French architect- planner, to have actually been executed.

It is also the site of some of his greatest architectural creations. The city has had far-reaching impact, ushering in a modem idiom of architecture and city planning all over India and has become a symbol of planned urbanism. It is as famous for it's landscaping as for its architectural ambience. Most of the buildings are in pure, cubical form, geometrically subdivided with emphasis on proportion, scale and detail.

Le Corbusier summed up his work on the city in an "edict", reproduced here in full:


The object of this edict is to enlighten the present and future citizens of Chandigarh about the basic concepts of planning of the city so that they become its guardians and save it from whims of individuals. This edict sets out the following basic ideas underlying the planning of the city.



The city of Chandigarh is planned to human scale. It puts us in touch with the infinite cosmos and nature. It provides us with places and buildings for all human activities by which the citizens can live a full and harmonious life. Here the radiance of nature and heart are within our reach.



This city is composed of sectors. Each sector is 800 meters by 1,200 meters, enclosed by roads allocated to fast mechanized transport and sealed to direct access from the houses.

Each sector caters to the daily needs of its inhabitants, which vary from 5,000 to 25,000 and has a green strip oriented longitudinally stretching centrally along the sector in the direction of the mountains. The green strip should stay uninterrupted and accommodate schools, sports fields, walks and recreational facilities for the sector.

Vehicular traffic is completely forbidden in the green strips, where tranquility shall reign and the curse of noise shall not penetrate.



The roads of the city are classified into seven categories, Known as the system of 7 V s, as below:

V -1 - Fast roads connecting Chandigarh to other towns;

V-2 -arterial roads.

V-3 --Fast vehicular roads;

V -4 -Meandering shopping streets;

V -5 -Sector circulation roads;

V -6 -Access roads to houses;

V -7 -footpaths and cycle tracks

Buses will ply only on V-I, V-2, V-3 and V-4 roads. A wall shall seal the V-3 roads from the sectors.



Certain areas of Chandigarh are of special architectural interest. Where harmonized and unified construction of buildings is aimed at,  absolute architectural and zoning control should remain operative.

Along V -2 central, dual carriageways Madhya Marg and Uttar Marg, where skyline, heights, character and architecture of buildings as planned shall not be altered.

No building shall be constructed north of the Capitol Complex. Along V -2 beyond dual carriageway areas are reserved for cultural institutions only and shall never have any residential buildings.



The centraI plaza in Sector 17 was designed by Le Corbusier as "Pedestrian's Paradise ".  No vehicular traffic will be permitted in the plaza.



Only such industry as is powered by electricity would be permitted in the Industrial Area, so that atmosphere is saved from pollution.


The Lake is a gift of the creators of Chandigarh to the citizens to be at one with me lake and its environments and its tranquility shall be guaranteed by banning noises.



The landscaping of this city is based on careful observation of the vegetation of India . Selected ornamental trees, shrubs and climbers have been planted according to color schemes to beautify it. In future planting and replacements, these principles must be kept in view. There should be no haphazard replacements, so that the avenues retain their harmony and beauty.

The Leisure V alley, the Rajendra Park and other parks shall be developed as parks only and no building other than already planned shall be permitted.






The age of personal statues is gone. No personal statues shall be erected in the city or parks of Chandigarh , The city is planned to breathe the new sublimated spirit of art. Commemoration of persons shall be confined to suitably placed bronze plaques.


The truthfulness of materials of constructions, concrete, bricks and stone, shall be maintained in all buildings constructed or to be constructed. The seed of Chandigarh is well sown. It is for the citizens to see that the tree flourishes.



Le Corbusier liked to compare the city he planned to a biological entity: the head was the Capitol, the City Center was the heart and work areas of the institutional area and the university were limbs. Aside from the Leisure Valley traversing almost the entire city, parks extended lengthwise through each sector to enable every resident to lift their eyes to the changing panorama of hills and sky. Le Corbusier identified four basic functions of a City: living, working, circulation and care of the body and spirit. If “circulation" was the dominant function, then of all "bodily elements", it was the "head" -that is the Capitol-- that most completely engaged the master architect's interest. Le Corbusier always looked for a chance to make a dramatic statement: in the context of Chandigarh , that was the Capitol – in this, the priorities of the Indian government and Le Corbusier's natural inclination converged.



The functions of the city were broadly classified under the four head


  • Living:- the sector with its shops, schools, health centers, places for  recreation and worship etc.

  • Working:- the Capitol, the City Center (Sector -17), the educational zone, the industrial area and other axial roads lined with shop and office blocks.

  • Care of body and spirit:- the lungs of the city,  these comprise of the green spaces and parks of each sector, the leisure valley running right across the city, the Sukhna Lake, the Rajindra Park etc.

  •  Circulation:- Les Sept Voies de Circulation, or Seven Vs. the very basis of the entire city plan; it consists of the 'seven Vs' as explained in the Edict above.

 Besides the urban precepts and design ideologies of Corbusier there were many other constraints that guided the final shape and texture of tile city:

The Discipline of Money:(The financial constraints.)

Corbusier once remarked,  India has the treasures of a proud culture but her coffers are empty," and throughout the project the desire for grandness was hampered by the need for strict economy. Each design and detail was evolved and sometimes reworked to fit into the budget allotted.


The Discipline of Technology (The technical innovations)

At Chandigarh reliance on local materials was essential. The scarcity of steel and seasoned wood resulted in most of the city being constructed in locally produced brick. Available in quantity, however was good clay, stone, sand and above all human labor. Corbusier reported that things were done in a typical Indian fashion -with an innumerable force and very few machines. Concrete, with the patterns of shuttering and formwork retained, was used extensively in keeping with the demand for economy and easy workability. This has now in fact become the identity of Chandigarh and a technique used extensively the world over.

In Corbusier's words:

"For fifty years concrete has been treated as a poor material but here it is treated as noble. Here we leave it rough. It is like the stone of the mountains. It has its own harmony."


The Discipline of Climate:

The sun has partially governed the orientation of the street pattern of Chandigarh . None of the streets lie in an east-west, north-south line so that traffic is spared having to face the direct eastern or western sun.

In the design of houses less attention was paid to the need of cross ventilation which in the critically hot periods is of no avail and more to the creation of cool interiors  as amply protected from the south west sun as ingenuity and exiguous funds permitted.

Particularly noticeable through out the city is the use of the brise-soliel (sun breaker), a device introduced by Corbusier for controlling the admission of Sunlight.


The Capitol is Le Corbusier's tour de force: he began to sketch the designs for the Capitol buildings during his first visit itself in early 1951. The complex stands aloof and dominates the city. Corbusier believed that " Chandigarh is not a city of lords, princes or kings confined within walls, crowded in by neighbors." These geometrical concrete buildings are intended to embody the essential spirit of the new city , the size and solidity of the structures denote power -the power of the people in a democratic state. Le Corbusier devoted great attention to the placement of the various buildings and other elements to avoid a static balance.

Disciplined by a limited budget, a primitive technology and a brutal climate, yet given a sympathy and freedom unusual in his career, Corbusier has been able to create in India an architectural expression surpassing in power any of his previous efforts.

In contrast to the panoramic Shivalik hills that form the most picturesque backdrop for the Capitol - the small artificial hillocks planned by Le Corbusier play a delightful visual game of hiding and revealing the edifices from the rest of the city. In Le Corbusier’s original concept; the Capitol was to consist of the edifices consisting of

i)  Secretariat  ii) Assembly  iii) High Court and iv) Governor's Palace.  Besides these main buildings there were also to be a number of monuments based on Corbusier’s personal philosophy - to adorn the piazzas and the open spaces between the edifices. However, the proposed Governor’s Palace was later changed to a more democratic institution called the Museum of Knowledge . Although all other structures of the Capitol have been built -sadly the pivotal structure of the Museum of Knowledge has still not been built, leaving Le Corbusier’s great masterpiece somewhat like an unfinished symphony!

The Secretariat

The first conspicuous building to come into view is the Secretariat -- the largest of all from the buildings in the complex (254 meters by 42 meters). Positioned at a sharp right angle to the mountain  range it is designed as a vast linear slab-like structure – a workplace for 4000 people. An endless rhythm of balconies and louvers on its linear facades is punctuated in a subtle way by a deliberately asymmetrical composition of brise-soleil (a sun shading device), evolved by Le Corbusier. It’s facade, besides the rhythmic brise-soleil, is also sculpturally punctuated by the protruding masses of angled ramps and stairways, The root line has a playful composition of a restaurant block a ramp and a terraced garden, to break the endless linearity.



The Assembly

In front of the Secretariat is located the most sculptural and eye-catching of all the geometrical  forms of the Capitol -The Assembly. Characterizing the roofline of the Assembly is a great hyperbolic drum connected to a pyramidal by a small bridge, Inside, the legislative chambers are dramatically illumined with shafts of light, The building has two entrances: one at the basement level for everyday use an the other from the piazza level for ceremonial occasions through a massive entrance, 7.60 meters high and 7.60 meters broad, whose enameled door (a gift to Punjab from France) translates a cubist mural painted by Le Corbusier himself. The door and many other elements of the Capitol demonstrate Le Corbusier's predilection for melding an and architecture.

The external fašade of the cuboid base has a rhythmic pattern of the brise-soleil with its play of light and shadow on three sides, And on the fourth opening towards the large piazza facing the High Curt is a huge trough supported on massive pylons.

The High Court

The High Court is a linear block with the main facade towards the piazza.  It has a rhythmic  arcade created by a parasol-like roof, which shades the entire building. Keeping in view the special dignity of the entrance for them through a high portico resting on three giant pylons painted in bright colors. Very much in the tradition of the Buland Darwaza of Fatehpur-Sikri, this grand entrance with its awesome scale is intended to manifest the Majesty of the Law to all who enter.

The symbolism of providing an “umbrella of shelter” of law to the ordinary citizen is most vividly manifested here. The continuity of the concrete piazza running into this space establishes a unique site and structural unity of the structure with the ground plane. The massive concrete pylons representing again the "Majesty' of Law" are painted in bright primary colors and visually punctuate the otherwise rhythmic facade of the High Court.

Colourful tapestries, one to each courtroom, cover the entire rear wall in the main and smaller courtrooms. A number of symbols that encapsulated Le Corbusier’s view of man, earth, nature, the emblems of India and the scales of justice were depicted in abstract, geometric patterns. They were also required for acoustical reasons. These tapestry designs referred to the basic element of architecture, and of order generally. The designs are based on Le Corbusier's Modular,  which he used to organize the entire Capitol Complex and give dimensions to all its buildings.


The Modular:

Le Corbusier described the Modular as "a modest servant offered by mathematics to people desirous of harmony, a universal tool for all kinds of fabrications destined to be sent to all parts of the world. The Modular is based on human height... it places man at the center of the drama, its solar plexus being the key to the three measures, which express the occupation of space by its members," (cited by Prasad Sun and, 1987)


There are various monuments in the Capitol Complex symbolizing the basis of the philosophy by which Le Corbusier arrived at his understanding of the city design. These are placed on the great esplanade about 400 yards long which joins the Assembly building to the High Court. These monuments are the Open hand, Path of the sun (The Geometric hill), The tower of shadows and the Martyrs Memorial.

The Open Hand:

The most thoroughly developed of the Chandigarh monuments as well as the most important as a compositional element in the capitol complex is the monument of the open hand. It says "open to give, open to receive". The open hand, like the museum of knowledge, serves to define the outer edge of the capitol complex and to uphold a man made sculptural from against the rugged profile the Himalayas . The hand rises 85 feet from an excavated plaza termed the fosse de la consideration, the pit of contemplation, which is provided for debate on public affairs. The giant hand is designed to turn on ball bearings to indicate symbolically the direction of the wind that is the state of affairs.

The surface of the hand was to be coated with baked enamel in orange, white and green the colors of the Indian flag.




The Martyrs Memorials

Proceeding toward the assembly building one finds the martyrs' monument to the right. This is a memorial to the martyrs of Punjab partition and consists of a square enclosure with one side elongated into a ramp by which one mounts the enclosing wall, Within the enclosure are to be symbolic figures of a prone man, a snake, and a lion set amid ruins, The concrete ramp permits one to see, from above, the Capitol in its entirety and creates a promenade -rising and descending.


The Geometric hill:

Situated adjacent to the memorial, this was to be a huge earth tilled hill, which will have its lower half in concrete relief work, and the top covered with grass turf. The relief will be in the form of Corbusier’s diagram of daily balance of light and darkness, which in his words "rules man's activity",


The Tower of shadows:

Just beyond the solar monument is the tower of shadows a demonstration of Corbusier's theories of sun control, consisting of a series of platforms oriented to the Cardinal points and containing sun breakers on three sides (except north). This concrete structure is a culmination of the in depth studies of Corbusier on the path of the sun and ways to control its penetration in to the built up space.




Housing :

Lower category residential building are governed by a mechanism known as "frame control" to control their facades. This fixes the building line and the use of building materials. Certain standard Sizes of doors and windows are specified and all the gates and boundary walls must conform to standard design. This particularly applies to houses built on small plots of 250 square meters or less. While they are allowed certain individuality, the idea is to ensure that the view from the street, which belongs to the community, is one of order and discipline. All buildings along the major axes of the city are brought under architectural control. A person building a house in Chandigarh must employ a qualified architect and the design is submitted to the Chief Architect for approval. Particular scrutiny was 'applied to residential buildings constructed along Uttar Marg (the northernmost avenue of the city at the very foot of the mountains), those abutting on Leisure Valley and along certain V-3 roads.


Commercial buildings:

All buildings located In the City Center and commercial or Institutional buildings to architectural controls. The systems of the City Center is based on a grid of columns, fixed 5.26 meters, shuttering pattern on concrete and a system of glazing or screen walls behind the line of column. The interior planning is left to the owners, and in the exterior, certain variations are permitted to give variety to the architectural composition. Along the V-2 roads, other types of treatments have been evolved for facades. All commercial buildings and all buildings constructed along the V-4 roads in other sectors are also under strict control. For shops, complete designs have been provided from the inception of the city.

Academic Ideology

We believe that architecture, the Great Mother Art, is an ambient social art and it seeks to render comprehensive service to mankind by meeting the complex challenges of contemporary life.

In the light of the profession's new role, we train our students by exposing them to live problems, situations and circumstances. Teaching, throughout the course of five years, is based on an inter-disciplinary approach which in addition to classroom learning through lectures, slide talks, discussions, assignments, comprehension tests, etc. entails numerous site visits and on-the-spot studies.  Students are encouraged to make their own observations of facts, to analyze and to evaluate them so that they may learn to reckon the relevance and applicability of investigative studies to the program requirements of creative course work in architectural design.

The College has a well qualified and experienced faculty duly reinforced by visiting faculty of eminent professionals drawn from the field in the disciplines of architecture, planning, urban design, engineering, humanities etc.

Main Thrust

Our main thrust is on the all encompassing nature and scope of Architectural Design.  The concept and direction of architectural design, however takes shape gradually through the development of the 10-semester course.  Beginning with an introduction to the theory and application of Basic Design, exercises in critical appreciation and creativity culminate in a research and/or design thesis in which a student gets an opportunity to handle all phases of architectural design.  This attempt ranges from the choice of the subject of thesis, case/prototype/library studies, analysis, identification/statement of the problem and the objectives to the formulation of client’s, architect’s brief and hence to the planning and design solution.

The States We ServeThis college caters to the needs of architectural education largely of the north-western region, covering the States of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Rajasthan and the Union Territory of Chandigarh.  In addition to this there are 5 (five) seats which are reserved for nominees of states from the northeastern parts of the country which are deficient in architectural education. This lends a more heterogeneous character to the college broadening knowledge of diverse cultures and lifestyles.

Live Exposure

In the light of the profession’s new role, CCA trains the students by exposing them to live problems, situation and circumstances.  Peoples, places, objects and events are thus our major inputs in imparting instruction in architecture.  Teaching  throughout the course of five years is based on an inter disciplinary approach which entails numerous site visits and on the spot studies in addition to class room learning through lectures, slide-talks, discussions, assignments, comprehension tests, etc.  Students are encouraged to make their own observations of facts to analyse and to evaluate them so that they may learn to reckon the relevance and applicability of investigative studies to the programme requirements of creative course work in architectural design.

Academic Changes

During the course of its checkered career, CCA has undergone many changes.  The semester system was introduced in 1972.

We have now introduced a two-tier scheme with effect from the  academic session 1985-86.  The 10 semester course is to be offered in two tiers: Stage One, from first to sixth semester and Stage Two, from seventh to tenth semester.  Stage One consists of theoretical subjects, tutorials, workshop practice and studio work for a basic grounding in the knowledge about architecture and its tools and skills.  Stage Two comprises a six month practical training followed by a large number of elective courses and studies of urban problems, professional practice, town-planning and a thesis. Recently, in 1998 a comprehensive review of the syllabi was undertaken to ensure greater cohesion progression and integration of the various related subjects and their inter-relationship with others. 

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