Corbusier and the UT green belts

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Chandigarh, like Canberra, is one of the best examples of the merging of the garden city and the city. Beautiful urban planning concepts, where the existing physical attributes are beautifully interwoven with the planning of the city without any obscurity. Le Corbusier’s intention was the “care of the mind and body” which was meant to reflect the relationship between man and the cosmos. He believed that isolation from the natural environment would degrade human health. His concept was not only reflected in the buildings he designed, but also in the city’s landscaping.

The urban form of Chandigarh has been designed to fully adapt to the physical attributes of the site.
The grid layout is in cohesion with the natural watercourses, the streams and the topography of the land. The grid has been oriented diagonally to cardinal directions to align parallel to streams to maintain the natural flow of water, with Shivalik’s buttresses as a backdrop. The shape of the city is further dictated by two seasonal choices, namely Patiala ki Rao and Sukhna Choe Rivulets. The N choe, which runs through the center of the site, has been transformed into a continuous green belt called the Valley of Recreation which, in addition to being an active public green space, conserves the natural flow of water. Sukhna Lake serves as a watershed to collect runoff from the Shivalik Hills to prevent flooding.

Le Corbusier designed the city with biological comparisons, where green spaces were identified as the lungs of the beautiful city. He defined four fundamental functions for the city: to live, to work, to move around and to take care of body and mind. A hierarchy of greenspace can be seen in both layout and design, ranging from city-level public greens to semi-private and private greens.

PUBLIC GREENS AT CITY LEVEL
Gardens with themes such as Botanical Garden, Perfume Garden, Butterfly Garden etc. have been developed over time to educate citizens, conserve the habitats of migratory species and enhance the existing flora. To conserve the ecology of the city, existing trees are preserved at various sites and native tree species have been introduced to mingle with existing ones. The forest area is reserved along the outskirts of the city. Also, trees were planted in homogeneous and heterogeneous groups in the green belts and open spaces of the city.

The different species of trees, in terms of flower color, foliage, crown shape, etc. MS Randhawa. The fluid leisure valley, with its varied textures of trees and flowers, attracts not only city dwellers but also tourists and professionals such as city planners.

To discourage the city’s unanticipated growth and preserve the microclimate, a green belt that includes the forest areas around Lake Sukhna, Sukhna Choe and Patiala ki Rao, is preserved by legislation. Besides their aesthetic value, trees in urban areas are an effective buffer against dust and noise, especially along the industrial belt where rows of mango trees are planted to act as a windbreak.

SEMI-PRIVATE GREENS Chandigarh has emerged as the perfect balance between architectural imagery and environmental design. Corbusier involved nature by offering open spaces in each sector at the urban level which were to function as “lungs of the city”. The parks have been extended lengthwise to have a view of Shivalik Hill from each sector as well as to join the adjacent sectors so that the inhabitants feel close to nature. Green belts near schools are placed to allow children to reach their school from their homes safely without any hindrance to traffic where possible and can spend some time waiting for public transport. The accommodations in the area have been staggered so that the mountain view is not obstructed, even at ground level.

PRIVATE GREEN SPACES
The hierarchy of green spaces is well structured at the neighborhood level within housing, schools, colleges, markets and other institutions. In the first phase, a low density with large size plot development were developed interspersed to merge with their existing environment. While in the second phase a smaller development took place with open space in the front and back yards. In the third phase, according to the zoning plan, collective housing requires 15% of community open spaces to maintain proximity to nature.

The UT administration constantly takes the initiative not only to fight against increasing urbanization, but also to make it more environmentally friendly and healthier for people. Birdpark was recently introduced to the city to house exotic bird species to create a new tourist spot and a place for bird lovers and aspiring bird watchers. According to the report of the National Action Plan on Climate Change, hedges are planted along urban trees on city roads to improve air quality. In accordance with the Chandigarh Greening Action Plan 2020-21, the forest cover of UT increased by 0.47 km² in 2019 compared to 2017.

Some trees that were planted in the 60s and 70s, perished on the green avenues, have been replaced by species according to the original plan. The elimination of weeds like Lantana and Parthenium has been taken up by the authorities because they harmed the growth of native species. MC has introduced compost pits in nurseries, parks, etc. to convert dry leaves into compost to prevent abuse of dry leaf burning.

(The author is an assistant professor at CCA. The article is edited by Ar Saumya Sharma, assistant professor, CCA. It is part of the bi-monthly CCA student and faculty article series on the making of Chandigarh with the LCPJ forum)


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