Press-Republican

Out & About

February 27, 2014

Exhibit explores modernism, city planning

MONTREAL — Here’s a unique tale of two cities — CCA Style.

The Canadian Centre for Architecture presents two exhibitions: “Casablanca Chandigarh: How Architects, Experts, Politicians, International Agencies, and Citizens Negotiate Modern Planning” and “Photographing the Arab City in the 19th Century.”

Architectural models, blueprints, photographs, videos and some unique artifacts abound.

CITY LINKS

First up, “Casablanca Chandigarh” explores the post-World War II development of these two cities during the 1950s, specifically in a distinctly post-colonial era.

And not to repeat the entire exact title of the exhibition, planning these cities really was a group affair.

Colorful informative maps highlight the waves of decolonization up until the 1970s, showing that France, Spain, Belgium, Great Britain and Portugal all loosened their once mighty international grips while the independence of new counties and states took place in the likes of India, Algeria, Kenya and Kuwait.

During this transitional period, and in preparation for building Chandigarh, what would be the new capital of Punjab state, India hosted an “International Exhibition on Low-Cost Housing,” a 1954 seminar that invited architects and members from the United Nations to offer viable city planning.

Officials took into account challenges from the times, most notably found in the array of book titles present, such as “Roofs in the Warm Humid Tropics.”

The main feature of the exhibition was a village center project, says the exhibit text, for which 80 houses were built. The total cost per house: about 5,000 rupees or $80 each.

UPWARD BOUND

In designing a new modern city in Morocco, experts aimed for a “citi verticale” — think upward — instead of a horizontal outward approach.

This concept meant an “inclusive city in which living, recreation, circulation and working were no longer placed in separate zones but rather intertwined as integral functions of the city,” says the accompanying text.

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