Creat. Sp.

Increasing Life Span of Government Housings of Chandigarh – A Need-Based Approach to Retrofit Through Prototype Study of E-Type Housing

Preeti Pahwa and Anish Sharma


Retrofit, case-sensitive, Chandigarh, Housing, Government Housing, Pierre Jeanerret, Jane drew, Maxwell Fry, Simulation, Computer-aided, Energy, Seismic scale, Thermal comfort, Visual comfort

PUBLISHER The Author(s) 2016. This article is published with open access at

This paper describes a project undertaken by the authors during their post-graduate studies at the University of Sheffield. The intent of the project was to identify building(s) that need up-gradation/retrofit, establish why retrofit is required, what kind of retrofit is needed and which techniques to employ, using a case-sensitive approach. However, the scope of this paper is limited to the first two objectives of the project and the recognition of retrofit techniques is left open-ended, so as to leave room for future debates and deliberations. The city of Chandigarh has always been highlight prominently on India’s architectural heritage map. Various buildings designed by Le Corbusier and his team (comprising Pierre Jeanerette, Jane Drew and Maxwell Fry) are like jewels (to be treasured) on this map. Still, ever since these buildings, especially the government housings, came into existence, no systematic procedures have been undertaken to analyse and assess their deterioration with time and usage. Passing down the streets of Chandigarh, one would observe how drastically the housings have been modified, and in some cases, have lost their original appeal. The paper is essentially drafted in three parts. The first part illustrates the conditions and political background in which these buildings were designed, so as to better understand the essence of this architecture. The second part tries to comprehend the current state of one of the many types of the Government Housings present in Chandigarh – the ‘House Type E1’ in Panjab University. Lastly, the authors use various scales, like present seismic byelaws and Computer Aided simulation tools, to evaluate how the given housing now fares in terms of structural stability and thermal & visual comfort.


Chandigarh, the ‘City Beautiful’, was conceived as a modern city in the newly independent India. A big chunk of the original architecture in Chandigarh is constituted by the Government Housings built during the 1950s and 1960s. Although, these housings were designed with utmost care, keeping in mind the climate and the monetary conditions of the state, they have served well to this day as protective shelters for the people in the composite climate of the region. Also, one might note that Chandigarh lies in the Zone 4 of seismic vulnerability. As the social setup of India has changed largely, it being the fastest growing economies of the world, the needs of the users, as they get more and more exposed to the western world, have also changed

Fifty years is a long tenure for such large scale projects to survive the test of time and climate. Now, a time has come when these buildings, which form the bulk of the modern heritage of Chandigarh, need to be retrofitted and upgraded to suit the needs of the people and the fast changing climate so that they are suitable to live in for, at least, the next 40-50 years. Also, the idea of retrofitting stands strongly in favour of sustainable practices since the carbon footprint of a building is decreased by making most use of the embedded energy and also makes them structurally stable.

Page(s) 67–86
ISSN Print : 2321-3892, Online : 2321-7154
DOI 10.15415/cs.2016.41004

The entire evaluation and assessment procedure indicates the need to retrofit the given housing type with meticulous planning and research, lest either the architectural merit is lost or the ecological footprint of the buildings increases. To make things coherent, following pointers can be highlighted from the study:

  • Green retrofit techniques would help conserve the embodied energy of the buildings.
  • The building envelop must be modified to meet energy efficiency and climate responsiveness.
  • Sizes and location of fenestrations should be more intrusive for wholebuilding lighting and ventilation.

Due to the short span of time available to finish this study, the research has been left with following limitations, which can be covered in further research by academicians and professionals:

  • Only one housing-type out of the 14 typologies in Chandigarh could be analyzed. It bears mention that since different housing types were meant to serve people from different income groups (and still do), their construction and planning are varied. Thus, it is not entirely correct to specify the same generic retrofitting techniques and guidelines to all of these.
  • Since the study is more architectural in nature, than structural, the structural techniques mentioned here are very basic and require better precision and case-sensitiveness. Hence another recommendation is to explore the structural part of the study.
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