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Circular Chandigarh - The City Beautiful

Long ago, someone in Chandigarh said, "The materials of city planning are: sky, space, trees, steel and cement; in that order and that hierarchy." It is interesting to see that like most cities, we have decided to change the order and the hierarchy!

Chandigarh, generally associated with the eminent architect Le Corbusier, has become an icon of modern city planning. It provided a new paradigm for planning in India and an inspiration for a new generation of Indian architects. Since the 1920s, a number of completely new capitals reflecting notions of modernity have been built. Most of the capital cities occurred soon after the countries had achieved independence such as Ankara (1928), Brasilia (1956), Islamabad (1963). The city of Chandigarh became the capital of not only Punjab but the newly formed state of Haryana as well.

When Chandigarh was built, attention was paid to climate and local materials, with most construction in brick and concrete. The lake was created for water with most of it coming from the foothills of the Himalayas. A large amount of land was left open to accommodate flooding and many of them were integrated into the open spaces in parks. Seventy years later a lot has changed. India’s economy has grown rapidly with the opening up of its markets to foreign investments; new industries have expanded, the population has risen to over 1.2 million, more than twice the number it was originally planned to hold and the per capita income is around 68000 Rupees which is three times the national average.

The materials of city planning are: sky, space, trees, steel and cement; in that order and that hierarchy." It is interesting to see that like most cities, we have decided to change the order and the hierarchy

Circular Economy Club Chandigarh and the Le Corbusier Centre hosted the first-ever Circular Economy Mapping Session to gather as many examples as possible of Circular Initiatives in Chandigarh. “Circular Cities Week” is an annual, decentralized global event. During the week, CEC City Organizers in more than 100 cities organized workshops to identify opportunities and next steps to encourage implementation of the circular economy in their cities. This process includes bringing in stakeholders from city governments, private and nonprofit sectors, and academia—and providing a multi-stakeholder call to action. Chandigarh mapped more than 80 CE initiatives in the city which is documented in a snapshot below.

No longer just an administrative capital, Chandigarh today serves as the regional centre for cultural, economic, educational and social activities. Chandigarh is essentially an expression of middle and upper-middle-class lifestyles and government. Today, due to spatial restrictions, the city is dotted with the new satellite towns of Parwanoo, Panchkula, S.A.S Nagar, H.M.T Township and Chandimandir Cantonment- none of which were included in the original master plan. Several occupy areas earmarked for the city’s greenbelt. Chandigarh was planned as an egalitarian, democratic statement: its impact and influence continue to be debated within the country and abroad. Could this city set an example to become the first Circular City of India? In an essay by Dr. Dushko Bogunovich titled "The next fifty years: Eco-cyborg Chandigarh", he writes that if we want to preserve the soul of the city then we must maintain the 'Think Big' approach. We will not only preserve the soul of this city but will also recover Chandigarh's rightful role as the avant-grande of global urbanism. Is Circularity the 'Think-Big' notion the city was looking for? If you have any suggestions then please do write to us at

About the Authors

Piyush Dhawan (LinkedIn) is the Cofounder of the Circular Collective was awarded the prestigious German Chancellor Fellowship last year to work on the topic of Circular Economy. He has for the past decade been working with Bilaterals and Multilaterals on a range of topics including business and biodiversity, Vision 2030 for Haryana and Future of Indian Cities. 

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