In post-independent India of the early 1950’s Le Corbusier had been involved in planning the city of Chandigarh and designing several prominent government buildings. During his time in India he was commissioned by the president of the Mill Owners’ Association to design the organization’s headquarters in Ahmedabad along with 3 other domestic buildings.
Of the four buildings in Ahmedabad the Mill Owners’ Association Building and Villa Shodhan are accessible to the public. Despite Villa Shodhan still being a private residence we managed to sneak in and have a look around!
During the period between 1945–1956, Le Corbusier started to incorporate and consider nature more frequently into his designs. The considerations of light, wind, rain and the addition of plants into the buildings in Ahmedabad are clear. Within the Mill Owners’ Association Building a rhombus of sunlight penetrates deep into the concrete structure whilst beautifully sculpted staircases seemingly float between floors. Working in predominately warmer environments Le Corbusier took his cues from traditional Indian architecture emulating large pillared halls and shady areas created by overhanging ledges.
The Mondrian-esq rectilinear plan and grid of the Mill Owners’ Association Building’s exterior stand in stark contrast to the interior spaces. Inside large convex and concave volumes panelled in wood veneer act as lecture halls and meeting places whilst the interplay of harsh concrete shapes toy with ever-changing geometric sunlight that pierces the shade.