ATMA building— the summation of Le Corbusier’s vision

Tuesday, 23 November 2010 - 1:28pm IST | Place: Ahmedabad | Agency: DNA
Le Corbusier, the iconic figure of 20th century art and architecture, has designed four buildings in the city of Ahmedabad.

Le Corbusier, the iconic figure of 20th century art and architecture, has designed four buildings in the city of Ahmedabad.

The whole of Americas has only two buildings of this pioneering "conscience of Modern architecture". Le Corbusier, born in Switzerland in 1887, was invited to design the capital city of Punjab, Chandigadh. It was the family network of visionaries and patrons of art like Kasturbhai Lalbhai, Ambalal Sarabhai and Chinubhai Chimanlal that was responsible for bringing Le Corbusier to Ahmedabad to design buildings here.

The buildings designed by Le Corbusier in Ahmedabad are : the Shodhan Villa, the Sarabhai Villa, the ATMA (Ahmedabad Textile Mill-Owners Association) building and the Sanskarkendra (museum). The ATMA building, located on the busy Ashram road and also on the bank of the river Sabarmati, is considered the summation of Le Corbusier's ideas of architecture and, in that, it is considered his masterpiece.

Le Corbusier, known for his experiments with "promenade architecture", makes an architectural gesture by introducing a massive yet graceful ramp through which the visitor is conducted into the building. The building, in a gesture of nobility, leaves a lot of space from the road and the compound boundary as if not to impose itself.

If there are stories of the river in each frame of the building, then all curving walls, use of bold colours to suggest the direction of movement, seats, staircases, windows and doors reveal the touch of the master artist in this building.

Louis Kahn, considered one of the leading lights of modernist architecture,designed the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) building in Ahmedabad. Known as poetry in bricks, this building is considered one of his finest and has placed Ahmedabad firmly on the world map of modern architecture.

The Gandhi ashram at Ahmedabad was established in 1917 with the object of doing social service for the nation, which was unopposed to the good of the world. Known for his sensitive modernist architecture, Charles Correa has created the museum nearby using the same materials as were used in the making of the other buildings of the ashram, with the addition of modern concrete.

The kutir ( a hut, beloved of the Mahatma) is used by Correa in the construction of the museum. Each unit of a kutir is six square meters and the museum is made of many such kutirs, punctuating the constant views of the Sabarmati river that flows a few yards away.

Sangath, the office and studio of architect BV Doshi, is a distinct voice of modern Indian architecture. After political independence in 1947, the artists and architects of India had grappled with the question of "what is Indianness" in their work and the meaning of the new Indian reality that they had found themselves in.

BV Doshi belongs to that pioneering generation of architects and is a leading proponent of modern Indian architecture.

One is transported from the outdoors into the realm of the indoors in the sequential unfolding of the spaces of Sangath. Sangath reveals BV Doshi's love for "promenade architecture". The entire building almost grows from the ground and is reached in by a carefully made pathway surrounded by a water tank and innumerable trees where birds chirp unceasingly.

Sangath is a sight of continuous dialogue between the sky, the water and the trees. It is also a meditation of the master artist on the nature of life in the present times.


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