Learning from Chandigarh: Hybridity. Different moments, diverse effects

Vinita Kapur, University of Pennsylvania


As the first example of a town consciously built where two cultures, the Indic and the Western, entered redefined relationships under the relatively freer powers of post-colonialism, cross-breeding political, town-planning and architectural ideas and elements, Chandigarh offers us a case-study of Indic-Western hybridity; that is, “the blending of two diverse traditions (and transforming them) into something heterogeneous…in composition,” 1 with, as I define it, three characteristics—functional, social and visual. Past studies of the architecture and town-planning of Chandigarh have either examined Chandigarh on a comparative basis (Nillson in The New Capitols of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh); in a historical manner (Evenson in Chandigarh, and Von Moos in The Politics of the Open Hand); the realm of form and meaning in the Capitol Complex (Curtis in Le Corbusier, Ideas and Forms); or the works of Corbusier and Jeanneret and their influence on Indian architecture (Bahga and Bahga in Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret: Footprints on the Sands of Indian Architecture). In contrast, I treat Chandigarh as a case study of hybridism. This approach allows me to examine the varied effects that cross-fertilization promotes—a variety of inventions and conflicts. It also allows me to examine the change from past regional architecture and the balance of forces between the Western and Indic sides. And, through the frame of Chandigarh and time, it allows me to examine the response of the inhabitants of Chandigarh and Indian counterpart town-planners and architects to western agenda and practice that, in turn, created various other hybrids with disparate effects. Despite attractive inventions, Chandigarh is a weak ‘hybrid’ of Indic-Western diverse visual and functional traditions, although the inhabitants of Chandigarh have created, transformed, and are transformed by, the city to increase its functional and social, and to a small extent, visual hybridity, within the parameters of what was possible. Over time, however, some Indian architects and town-planners outside of Chandigarh have used the ideas in the fabric of Chandigarh to create different hybrids with a greater balance of Indic and Western forces. 1Neufeldt ed. Webster's New World Dictionary , (Cleveland and New York: Simon and Schuster, 1988), 660.

Subject Area

Architecture|Urban planning|Area planning & development|Art History

Recommended Citation

Kapur, Vinita, "Learning from Chandigarh: Hybridity. Different moments, diverse effects" (2001). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3031680.