In the recently published book, Le Corbusier Rediscovered, put together by Rajnish Wattas and Deepika Gandhi as a labour of long love and commitment, B V Doshi reminds us of the way Le Corbusier used to think. When he was working on the 'idea' of Chandigarh, he says in his essay,
"I remember Le Corbusier's insistence on incorporating an understanding of everything. He insisted on expressing his ideas of 'Pact with Nature'. Perhaps the large plain at the Shivalik foothills was such a sacred site, that the hills, though far away, would yet provide wiser counsel, eternity and reverence for the citizens of the city from everyday political intrigue."
Recalling and interpreting Corbusier, in his keynote address to the 2015 symposium on 'Celebrating Le Corbusier's Chandigarh: 50 years', to which this volume goes back repeatedly, William Curtis had said, "The role of the monument is to idealise institutions. It does not portray things as they are, it portrays things as they ought to be. Le Corbusier knew that this was the role of architecture here on the Capitol. Whatever the programme stated concerning parliament, law, etc., he saw through it to the deeper meaning."
P L Verma, chief engineer, of whom Le Corbusier thought so highl, and who had a long, warm association with the great architect, recorded his personal impressions a long time back: "In his concept of the 'Brave New World', he (Le Corbusier) did not let personal, national and traditional predilections predominate. His creations were placed on a universal base with a common denominator - catering to the modern needs of mankind. India had a silent, oriental, almost spiritual appeal for him, in the midst of his predominantly occidental culture and background."
There is food for thought here, and riches of understanding. Chandigarh and Le Corbusier's vision of the city, remain at the core of the book; but, as happens with concentric circles, things spread out. Jacques Sbriglio speaks in it of 'Brutalism' as an element in the master-architect's work; Alfredo Brillembourg traces his influence on the architecture of the world including that of Venezuela, the writer's own country; William Curtis goes at length into how the Capitol Complex works as a cosmic and political landscape; Michel Richard's concerns centre around the archiving of legacy; Raj Rewal assesses the impact of Le Corbusier's work on all post-Independence Indian architecture; Rahul Mehrotra shares his thoughts on Urban India and the issues that the currently fashionable 'Smart Urban Turn' raises; while Jagan Shah ruminates on 'Re-inventing' Chandigarh. From the home turf, S D Sharma draws attention to the task of completing Le Corbusier's Capitol; Rajnish Wattas speaks of the city as a 'City in Garden; and Sumit Kaur elucidates the Master Plan of 2031. At the same time, thoughtfully, are included in the volume old but evidently relevant writings of P LVarma and M N Sharma.