The structure of K.C. THEATRE—a landmark in Sector 17 of Chandigarh is now rubble, ostensibly because the administration has agreed to it being converted into a Multiplex. This transformation requires a new design. A lot of media coverage has taken place on this issue.
Why am I writing this?
It is because I was the ARCHITECT of the CONCEPTUAL DESIGN of the Movie Theatre which came to be known as K.C. Theatre. Here let me clarify what I mean by the word ARCHITECT. At the time when the conceptual design of this theatre was prepared (sometime late fifties) my official designation was Junior Architect. Mr. P. Jeanneret was the Senior Architect. Maxwell Fry and Jane Drew had already left. Le Corbusier was (I think) designated as Architectural advisor. An ARCHITECT is the person who conceives of a design irrespective of his official designation. For example, in the design of the COLLEGE of ART (Audio Visual Training Institute, as Corbusier called it) I assisted Le Corbusier in developing his conceptual design. Irrespective of how much contribution I made in the design, I do not call myself its architect. Corbusier remains its architect.
K.C. Theatre was located in the City Centre, Sector 17, of which the architectural control had been designed by Le Corbusier and executed by A.R Prabhawalkar, then designated as JUNIOR TOWN PLANNER. Before K.C. Theatre design I had already CREATED (DESIGNED) the conceptual designs of JAGAT CINEMA AND NEELAM CINEMA. Both concepts were created to harmonise with the ambience of Sector 17. The drawings I prepared for all these projects (conceptual designs) would certainly bear the signatures of Mons. P Jeanneret as the official SENIOR ARCHITECT. But I do not believe the Le Corbusier had anything to do with the actual approval of the designs prepared by me and approved by Mons. P.Jeanneret. In all cases when a SITE is sold with a CONCEPTUAL DESIGN the investor who buys the SITE invariably wants some modification in the actual execution of the design. Both in the case of the Jagat Cinema and Neelam Cinema I, Aditya Prakash as ARCHITECT provided the ADVICE as to what CAN be allowed and what Cannot. The DESIGNS were executed to the satisfaction of all parties.
K.C. Theatre site was an island site whereas the Jagat and Neelam Cinemas were in continuation with the existing architectural controls. When working on the design of K.C site I, as ARCHITECT felt that here is an opportunity to make a COUNTERPOINT STATEMENT. This is not to say that the design should not be in TUNE or SPIRIT of the City Centre but should somehow create a FOCA point. I do not think that there was any direction from Le CORBUSIER or Mons. P. Jeanneret in this regard. But once the conceptual design was created Mons. Jeanneret certainly approved it. I DO NOT THINK Corbusier entered the scene in any way.
Now I come to the present scenario—now the user is known and the administration has agreed to the change of use. I presume that the structure was demolished with the full knowledge of the administration. But it seems to me that no one cared to lay down the guidelines for what the NEW building will look like. This is where the SCHEMATIC design in Architectural Control areas comes handy.
Was I to be the architect, I would certainly have developed a new SCHEMATIC design in consultation with the user, and bearing in mind the ambience of the City Centre, before the structure was to be demolished. At this stage it would not be out of place to mention that there are three moot points to be decided:- 1) Volume of the structure, 2) Floor area to be permitted, and 3) Use of space bearing in mind the PARKING space available.
I hope these points have been borne in mind and conveyed to the user. But they should form the basis of evaluating the New Plans that may be prepared.
I understand that the user has been told to create a UNIQUE design for the MULTIPLEX for assessment by the administration.
How does one create a unique design??? The chaces are that the user would ask his architect to create a FANTASTIC design to suit his requirements, and then argue that the fantastic design is indeed a UNIQUE design. Let me state quite categorically that the DESIGN is a very subjective discipline.
All sorts of arguments can be put forward to justify a design that is when the political pressures come into play and the stronger party gets away with its point of view.
Having said that, let me state that even at this stage, it would be worthwhile that the Chief architect puts forth a new SCHEMATIC DESIGN bearing in mind the new parameters that I have mentioned in this note. This schematic design should be the basis of the ULTIMATE SCHEME which the user may put forth for approval. Failing this, I am afraid we are going to sail in uncharted waters and may land in some unknown and undesirable destination. If that happens it would be a great tragedy for the CITY CENTRE.
1118, Sector 8C, Chandigarh - 160 018