Government intervention and babudom are nothing new to India. It has thrived for generations and continues to do so even today. Soon after Independance there was a massive movement to bring the country on par with the Westernised world. New cities and towns was part of that scheme and Nehru, India’s first prime minister took the initiative to invite Le Corbusier to plan Chandigarh. The rest, as they say is history.
Corbusier was not the only architectural giant to leave his stamp on India. Louis Kahn, his contemporary also worked in India around the same time and would design and influence future generations of architects in India.
While Corbusier got the opportunity to design the masterplan and the important architectural pieces of Chandigarh, Kahn, did not get to do it in India. He did design the capital complex of Bangladesh, which then was a new country taking birth.
Paul John writes a very interesting article “With Kahn magic Gandhinagar would have rivalled Chandigarh” that speaks about the missed opportunity for India and Kahn to design Gandhinagar, the new capital of the new state of Guarat.
If Chandigarh is Le Corbusier’s city, Bhubaneswar bears the German Otto Koenigsberger’s signature, Gujarat’s capital Gandhinagar could have had American yogi Louis Kahn’s imprint — a strong rival to Corbusier’s Chandigarh — had the Indian and Gujarat governments allowed Kahn to design the capitol buildings.