Le Corbusier: Sketch for the Governor’s Palace, Chandigarh, India

By Niall Hobhouse

Le Corbusier (1887–1965), Sketch (numbered ‘4’) for the Governor’s Palace, Chandigarh, India, Amis (Friends), 27 May 1953. Pen, pencil and coloured pencil on paper, torn from a sketchbook in the late 1950s, Scale: 1:1000, 330 × 203 mm. DMC 1424.5.

Niall Hobhouse remembers that Jullian de la Fuente, the Chilean architect who worked with Le Corbusier, told him the story of how he came to own the twelve pages (of which one is shown) extracted from Le Corbusier’s sketchbook:

In the late 1950s the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, made a speech declaring that the governors of the new, independent country would not live in palaces. The following morning Jullian was alone in the office when Le Corbusier entered, crossed the room to the cupboard where his sketchbooks were stored, and removed the volume that covered his trip to India in the spring of 1953. He tore out the twelve pages on which he had developed detailed designs for the Governor’s Palace in Chandigarh. Knowing that Nehru’s pronouncement meant the building would never be realised, he presented them to Jullian with the words, ‘My boy, if you understand these drawings, you will understand how a building is made.’