Chandigarh Architectural History, Style Contributed For Low Cost Housing

Chandigarh architecture teaches valuable lessons in low-cost housing and should be emulated. Chandigarh architecture is a reference, but never served as a reference for low-cost housing development in the country.

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Chandigarh Architectural History, Style Contributed For Low Cost Housing

Chandigarh Architectural History: Brick jalis, standardised facades, row housing with common walls between adjoining houses and exposed concrete and brick facades are among common architectural elements that are not only aesthetically admirable, but also tell a story of how low cost mass housing was achieved using the design and choice of construction material here.

Though aesthetic beauty of the city’s architecture is much appreciated but its contribution to low cost housing is generally overlooked. Chandigarh architectural history and style is a major contribution in the realm of low cost housing.

Chandigarh was conceived and conceptualised in 1950 as the new capital city for Punjab. The state government accorded higher priority to the construction of houses for its employees. In the initial programme, it was envisioned for more 20,000 people within three years of start of construction.

Availability of funds for the Chandigarh project shaped architectural decisions. The funds available for the new city at the time were scarce and there was more emphasis on making everything economical, but at the same time not sacrificing harmony, utility and aesthetics of the architecture.

To achieve this, focus was on laid on low cost options both in terms of materials used and the design elements.

Chandigarh Architectural History

  • Stress was laid on using, locally made inexpensive brick as the vital material for construction, minimising wood work and glazing, which were seven times more expensive than brick wall, by keeping window sizes minimum, standardisation of doors, windows and sanitary fittings besides using pre-cost roof battens and tiles for economising on time, shuttering, labour and using minimum machinery during construction.
  • Cost-effective bricks were the main building material for construction. It was left in its natural form without plaster or paint, saving on current and future maintenance costs.
  • They made housing openings like windows smaller in size. Windows were properly shaded through an innovative system of sub-breakers to cut off the harsh sun.
  • Majority of air, light and ventilation in the houses was achieved through perforations made in the brick wall and extensive use of brick jalis. But, this didn’t come at the cost of aesthetic elements.
  • Eliminating use of costly machinery and promoting improved local technologies, using vernacular architecture and promoting standardization, which brought about low cost housing.
  • Use of cement was minimised and simple structures were used to keep cost low. Similarly, cost-saving design elements like protruding bricks were used in type 13 houses to shade the walls without incurring any additional costs.

Take example of jute doors used in the first building constructed in the city, now turned into the Le Corbusier Centre, which are still in good shape after all these years. If we see older buildings, we can notice how low maintenance these required in last 60 years, but still continue to appear beautiful and functional.

Lessons from Chandigarh Architectural History

Lessons from Chandigarh Architectural History, in low-cost housing have largely been overlooked by planners. Most new cities are planned focusing on the middle and upper middle class. Housing for poor is either ignored in the planning stage or is done shoddily.

Chandigarh architecture teaches valuable lessons in low-cost housing and should be emulated. Chandigarh architecture is a reference, but never served as a reference for low-cost housing development in the country. This must change if we are serious about meeting the challenge of low-cost housing.

Source Link- http://www.hindustantimes.com/chandigarh/an-answer-to-affordable-housing-conundrum-in-chandigarh/story-b6TToCYETy2bEUKjdr0LhN.html

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