Chandigarh 3 (of 4): The garden design of Nek Chand’s Illegal Rock Garden

Nek Chand Saini’s (नेक चंद सैनी) Rock Garden in Chandigarh is a remarkable contrast with Corbusier’s Capitol Complex, which it adjoins. Corb’s work is sterile, vacant, glaring and unused. Chand’s work is fascinating, cool, shady and very popular. How is it than a poor man from a poor village with no education beyond high school, could be so much more successful than that of a man who is often claimed to be as the greatest architect of the twentieth century? This leads on to other questions.
Was Corbusier’s espousal of an international style a fundamentally mistaken approach to landscape architecture?
Was Corbusier’s approach to landscape architecture too ‘architectural’ in the sense of focusing on objects instead of on the space which separates the objects?
Could an application of Modernist principles to ecological design, as in the Amsterdam Bos Park, have saved Corbusier’s project from failure?
Or was it a lack of concern for the social use of outdoor space which derailed his design for the Capitol Project?
Was Charles Jencks right to see Corbusier’s design for the Capitol Complex as more Postmodern than Modern? Yes, but it not as Postmodern as Nek Chand’s approach to landscape architecture.

Four posts re Chandigarh urban planning, landscape architecture and garden design

The relationship of Nek Chand's Rock Garden to Corbusier's Capitol Landscape Architecture is not so much that of Postmodernism:Modernism. It is more that of Good Design:Bad Design.

The relationship of Nek Chand’s Rock Garden to Corbusier’s Capitol Landscape Architecture is not so much that of Postmodernism:Modernism. But it is a relationship of Good Design:Bad Design.

Tom Turner

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