Radiant Cities

Chandigarh and sixteen other Le Corbusier projects are now UNESCO World Heritage Sites

International Preservation Urbanism
(Courtesy Raakesh Blokhra/Flickr)
(Courtesy Raakesh Blokhra/Flickr)

On Sunday, UNESCO designated 17 works of Le Corbusier—in Argentina, Belgium, France, Germany, India, Japan, and Switzerland—to be on their World Heritage List.

One of the sites included in the designation is the capital complex in the city of Chandigarh in India, for which Le Corbusier designed the master plan and several key buildings such as the courthouse and university. His plans continued the work started by American planner Albert Mayer, who left the project in 1950 when his partner, Matthew Nowicki, died in a plane crash. Chandigarh was completed in 1960 and is still the capital city of the state of Punjab.

As a whole, the 17 sites included in the UNESCO designation are a testament to Le Corbusier’s influence on 20th century architecture and urban planning. Also included are the iconic Unite d’Habitation de Marseille and the National Museum of Western Art in Tokyo.

In 2015, the BBC ran an article calling Chandigarh “the perfect city.” A large “Open Hand” sculpture on the site is a testament to the architect’s philosophy of peace and unity. However, like most of Le Corbusier’s work, it has had its share of critics. The site also faces preservation issues. The new UNESCO designation will help protect the architect’s work and preserve his legacy for future generations. More details on the new Le Corbusier UNESCO World Heritage Sites can be found here.

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