Il tesoro di Chandigarh

“The city that sat on its treasures but didn’t see them” is how the New York Times described Chandigarh, architectural manifesto of Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret.

If everyone knows that in the Indian city of Punjab the workers in the principal public buildings have the privilege of working in real modernist masterpieces, there are few who imagined that inside these buildings even the original furnishings have remained intact. Icons of design, such as the V Chair designed by Pierre Jeanneret, have been used with nonchalance for decades by employees who, probably, dreamed of more modern furniture. Many succumbed to the temptation to get rid of them, selling them for a few rupees, without imagining that they were bought by gallery managers and then sold at major international auction houses for tens of thousands of dollars. A good earner, since not many antiques dealers were assiduous frequenters of the Indian city. So piece after piece, the modernist treasure was taken apart. However, after an alarm launched by a number of local architects and officials, the curious tale seems set to have a happy ending: the city authorities have set about making the Chandigarh Heritage Furniture Committee. E.S.

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