Sector 17 or the city centre has architecturally controlled buildings, which cannot be changed much due to their unique structure, as per the UT Administration. Over the years, hardly any changes have been permitted in these buildings.
Le Corbusier conceived Sector 17 plaza as the hub of the city. Even though the plaza has structures with same architecture, still there is some play. Jagat and Neelam, for instance, were planned as cultural landmarks.
NO VERTICAL GROWTH
- Even though the population has increased manifold and more structures need to come up in the plaza, the original design does not allow for any more vertical growth here. Members of the Chandigarh Heritage Conservation Committee say addition of another storey would rob the plaza of its essence. They have floated a series of proposals to reinforce the original concept and ensure that all interventions are made sensitively keeping in view the architectural character of the plaza.
A GREY FACADE
- The sector, known for its lofty grey buildings, is beginning to look unkempt because of the discoloured façade but the bylaws don’t permit a coat of paint, even if it’s grey in color. Even if some building owners dare to paint them, they are asked to remove it on the plea that paint does not gel with the uniform look of the façade.
- Most buildings also need cleaning and restoration. Look up and you will see cracks in the exposed concrete, especially in the balcony area of the façade.
- Slamming the cast-in-concrete bylaws, Capital Book Depot owner Ajay Arora says, “The city byelaws were made when the city was conceived many, many years ago. But with the changing dynamics, changes should be allowed. For example, we are not permitted to have a complete glass façade in the showrooms. The administration should leave this to the shop owner.”
- Giving another instance of an archaic feature, Arora says an open-to-sky cut was made in the buildings for light and ventilation in the times when there was no air conditioner. But now since all stores have air conditioners, it’s not needed.
- Ashok Kumar, director of KC Theatre, laments that his project has been delayed for almost a decade due to the various bylaws that came in his way of getting the required permissions. “We used to have a single screen theatre, but with multiplexes entering the market, we also decided to venture into multiple screens,” he explains.
STRICTLY BY THE BOOK
- The Architectural Control Sheets of the city centre lists the various restrictions imposed on design elements like the size and grid of columns, height of buildings, width and height of passages, size of show-windows and glazing, placement of core, ducts and staircases. It also specifies use of materials and system of construction to the extent of shuttering pattern. The material used for buildings is mainly concrete; with brick used at some places.
- The ground floor generally consists of shops; first and second floors have either shops or offices. Third floor was designed as accommodation for the essential staff of the commercial establishment.