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Chandigarh’s brutalist legacy finds expression in the sky-lit corridors of the CGC Student Hostel

The identity of the city of Chandigarh cannot be separated from its modernist heritage. The palatial structures that collectively make the city a post-modernist mecca sow their Corbusian nature into contemporary practices even today. The unmissable nuances that make the city timeless could be anything from the pared-down material pallet, the visual dynamics lent by the casting of abundant natural light, the play of space-building elements, or many other intangibles that have transcended changes brought by time.

These timeless notions can be adapted to create structures of any scale or functionality. In the case of the Chandigarh Group of Colleges’ Student Hostel campus in Landran, Punjab, these ideas are adapted as an ode to the quintessential brutalist Chandigarh.

Capital complex building - Chandigarh

Situated on an oddly shaped site, the building footprint is derived from simple geometry. The building vocabulary plays with the interconnected levels, the volumetric expansions, and the flow of natural light. A central atrium extends from a sunken court under a triple-height core. The atrium is interjected by overhead bridges crisscrossing each other at multiple levels and becomes a dynamic matrix accentuated by the large influx of light through the skylights. This dappled daylight, when subjected to the muted material palette—like the grey-grit finished surfaces, Kota floor and white walls—gives it a sculpted quality that goes beyond its functionality of being a mere hostel accommodation. The CGC Student Hostel might be an exercise of frugality dictated by budgetary constraints, however, the designed spaces with points of interest, like the interconnected bridges and spillover corridors, are set apart owing to these overtures.

The CGC Student Hoste sits in a context that is shaped by the Corbusian vocabulary. A key distinguisher of this grammar is the play of elements that lends the spaces a spiritual dimension. The seamless circulation through the corridors, when intersected by the spillover nodes, creates inspiring movements that foster the spirit of gathering and interaction.