Who is the best photographer in Chandigarh

md. Interior Design Architecture, April 30, 2015

If the Polish architect Matthew Nowicki had not had an accident, Le Corbusier would not have received the contract for the town planning of Chandigarh. But that's how the Swiss architect began his work together with Pierre Jeanneret in the early 1950s. The sculptor and photographer Werner Feiersinger approaches the legendary capital of the Indian state of Punjab in his own way. The Austrian took pictures with his specific view, his sculptural and creative background and put together over 300 of them. It is an inventory of the current state of the city - unfiltered, vital and sometimes sobering. Feiersinger shows the expressive, sculptural qualities of the buildings. Chandigarh Redux also pays homage to the book ‘Chandigarh 1956 ′ by the Swiss photographer Ernst Scheidegger and the pictures he took while the city was being built. A contribution by Andreas Vass looks at the history and structural future of the city.


German Architects, May 13, 2015

Le Corbusier's planned city.

With their book "Chandigarh Redux" the brothers Martin and Werner Feiersinger provide a rich, but also thought-provoking inventory of the city planned by Le Corbusier in India's far north.

Chandigarh, Le Corbusier's planned city in northern India, is not only a special place because it was conceived by that influential architect of classical modernism and - for the most part - by him as well as by his cousin Pierre Jeanneret, Maxwell Frey and his wife Jane Drew also by the Indian architects MN Sharma and Aditya Prakash was originally built. Chandigarh is also of interest to architecture historians and lovers because it was here that the vision of a built classical modernism could be drilled from the ground up. The rational and functional as a manifesto of a modern, i.e. better world with a minimalist stamp, clear materiality and precisely defined spatial planning rules. A whole canon of built and thus also social conformity and normality - also with the countless contradictions that result from these dogmatic-theoretical demands and the relentless rigor in the interplay with history.

The Austrian sculptor and photographer Werner Feiersinger has been investigating this area of ​​tension within classical modernism and its often just as rigidly dogmatic and therefore often uncritical reception in his works for many years. So it was an obvious and logical step for him to tour the city, which was built in 1952, and to take a photographic inventory of it. Around 300 of his pictures have now merged into the book “Chandigarh Redux” and fill a good 380 of the 416 pages, the individual buildings in a loose arrangement, mapped out on a schematic floor plan of the city. The pictures show some buildings that have been badly damaged, which were (of course) incorporated by the residents, who in turn have left traces of their existence: What is astonishing about many of the motifs is that these habitants cannot be seen, but perhaps for example their cars, bicycles, clotheslines or flower pots. In this way, the series of images becomes a fund that spans the vision of a generation of architects to the unadorned present.

Werner Feiersinger chose very neutral motifs on his photographic journey, the sometimes quite pale colors - which suggests that the photos were only slightly or not at all edited before going to press - reflects reality quite relentlessly. Floor plans in a few places in the book allow the inclined architect and anyone interested in closer studies. The long series of images is followed by an essay by the architect Andreas Vass, who in a kind of very personal report reflects the history of Chandigarh and its architecture and dares to look forward to future developments.

The book title “Chandigarh Redux” ostensibly mimics the claim to revive something here (redux = revived). However, this does not mean the city or its inhabitants; rather, the title refers to Ernst Scheidegger's book "Chandigarh 1956", which documented the architecture of this planned city a good 60 years ago and which Werner Feiersinger now served as the inspiration for a new version - which could well serve as a template for other works by Feiersinger, and then again in the field of sculpture. Incidentally, he edited the book together with his brother and architect Martin Feiersinger, who has his office in Vienna, and Elise Feiersinger (together with Brian Dorsey) is responsible for the translation, which makes the book almost a family business - which is why In no way diminishes the entertainment and study value of this work and lets us look forward to perhaps the following works of art that will emerge from this journey of inspiration.

Thomas Geuder


DBZ German construction magazine 6.2015


The hunger for pictures is one for the "not yet seen". The Feiersinger brothers, artist and photographer one, architect the other, both travelers in matters of architectural archeology, had inspired us in recent years with their find directories from northern Italy (Detours and Italomodern).

Now a solo piece by the photographer. “Chandigarh redux”, a reunion in around 300 photographs. However, these do not attempt to document a reality behind the Chandigarh myth, rather the animation of an atmosphere using light, the colors and the ubiquitous signs of life.

The images end in an essay by the architect Andreas Vass, who vividly continues the atmospheric nature of the photographer's work and, in addition to telling the story about the becoming of Chandigarh, does not forget the description of what is today. Perfect.

Benedict Kraft


DAMN ° 51, July / August 2015

Everyday Life in a Former Utopia.

Revisiting Chandigarh.

What a marvelous concept, to design an ideal city. Certainly a turn-on for any architect invited to do so. But perhaps a concept is all such a project can successfully be, for how could such a place ever be devised in reality? Alas, it has, on occasion been tried. In Chandigarh, Le Corbusier fully engaged himself and all of his proclivities in conjuring the perfect city. In truth, he rather got away with it, as the result fairly satisfied the expectations of its commissioner, and seemed to please the populace. At least, at first. Chandigarh has proven exceptional in certain categories, such as wealth and cleanliness. But a utopia it is not.

Ideal cities like Chandigarh are 1: 1 models of a better world - they represent a political program that came true, and then, over time, failed. What makes such cities interesting from today’s standpoint is the way they deal with visions and illusions. Werner Feiersinger’s photographic explorations of daily life in this Indian city show what the political and ideological will executed, and how people are dealing with the results 50 years later.

Wide, straight boulevards, multi-storey structures, standardized building types, and rows and clusters of residential blocks: Werner Feiersinger’s photographic essay focuses on the architecture, public space, and interiors in the city of Chandigarh, the iconic capital of Punjab and Haryana. But the Austrian artist is not interested in a devout view. His works does not celebrate the myth of India’s famous, artificially planned city by Le Corbusier known as The City Beautiful. Instead, the images reveal everyday life at the present time, in all its detail. Thus, observations such as promotional signs on façades, crumbling concrete surfaces, and nature growing wild are not hidden or blurred, but constitute part of the atmosphere conveyed by the pictures. Through the photographer’s camera lens, Chandigarh becomes a relic of a former dream - a dream a long time ago and that at certain moments can be retraced, from a distance. So it can be observed that the cinema is now abandoned, while other public buildings are spirited ruins that still function. All in all, this city near the foothills of the Himalayas belongs to a former architectural and political dream that conditions an often-inconvenient reality nowadays.


In 1950, Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret where invited, together with English architects Maxwell Fry and Jane Drew, to work on a new design for Chandigarh, a young city founded shortly beforehand as India’s first post-independence city. “And I tell you, this will be my lifework, in the Indian nation; an extraordinary, civilized nation ”, wrote Le Corbusier in a letter from 1951. According to his ideology, the planning of Chandigarh was synonymous with a better world, full of vitality and positive simplicity. The matrix for the urban area of ​​80 square kilometers was held together by Corb’s strict ideals of rhythm and expression, scale and function. Grids and clusters were the leitmotif for the better life the architect was planning; he was commissioned by Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister, who wanted the future vision for India to come true.

Ideal cities like Chandigarh, Brasilia, or Putrajaya, the ultra-modern administrative center in the southwest of Malaysia, deal with future expectations and with the utopic potential of political visions. Similar to the absolutistic or renaissance ideal for cities, they are arranged as perfect societies without mistakes, with no place remaining for unforeseen developments. Compared to open city structures that can grow according to the needs of the people, those 1: 1 models of cities are totalitarian, in a certain sense. They categorically exclude other ideas, with no place for the unexpected; they do not respond to diverse political opinions or historical changes that might arise unplanned. And they do not respond to individual requirements other than the ones that had been surmised in the overall planning.


Le Corbusier’s master plan for Chandigarh is no exception. The strict grid for the urban site was arranged according to a system of hierarchic building types. For government employees, there were thirteen types and subtypes of housing. And of course there were also clear rules for private upper and middle class housing, for dormitories, and so on. But in the end, the houses and the planning possessed much too little individuality from today’s point of view. There was no desire to avoid catering to the class system in India; rather, the architecture and the master plan strengthened it. “In the end, the caste system was latently inscribed into the order of the city”, emphasizes Andreas Vass in his essay accompanying the photographs in the book Chandigarh Redux. Everything in Corbusier's planning was classified and quantified, from the whole of the city to the 17 single sectors to each housing type and architectural form. Cylinders and cuboids, round columns ... the elementary vocabulary of the city center is typical of modernity and reminiscent of Corbusier's architectural language in his European projects. But how shall we deal with an architecture that obviously followed strict ideals and later failed?

Werner Feiersinger’s photographs can provide an answer to this question. The 17 different sectors of the city are documented through a large collection of images. The photos respect the buildings and spaces, but the contemporary surroundings attest to the distance.

Sandra Hofmeister


Detail 7/8/2015

With »Chandigarh Redux« Werner Feiersinger presents a photo book which, supplemented by an essay by Andreas Vass, is well worth reading and deals with the subject of this city. Feiersinger is an artist and photographer, Vass is an architect and architectural theorist, both are also active in university teaching and made their way to the Orient, to Chandigarh, to that legendary city in Punjab in India, the master plan of which was designed by Le Corbusier and in to which he once again brought the entire abundance of his creativity to view, photograph and describe in order to revive it for discourse (Redux). In such cases, the photographer needs to be endowed with a gaze capable of adequately capturing both the morphological and the mythical. At the same time, a critical and informed architectural view is required, which captures the structures in order to describe the visual complexity of this city. Both prerequisites are met here in the best possible way and the result is impressive. The spectrum of the pictures ranges from a "City Beautiful", according to the proud Beaux Arts model, through the open spaces and cricket fields to the colonnades of the Town Hall, where the legal transactions are carried out. From the layout of the Capitol as the "head" of the plan, with the Secretary Building, the Assembly Hall and the High Court to the buildings of Government Housing and Institutional Housing. With many photos one is inclined to think of the "Solitude of Buildings" (Rafael Moneo) in order to understand the state in which the city and the buildings are. They show the survival of the architecture, the fading of the houses and their changes - especially in the monumental buildings of the three powers, which, left to their own devices, remain in a melancholy twilight state in the »terrain vague«.

Manfred Russo


dérive N ° 62, Jan - Mar 2016

"The term Redux (English revived) refers to the new version of a music album (...) or a film (...) in which unused material is taken into account," teaches Wikipedia. The back of the book teaches the artist and photographer Werner Feiersinger that a photo series created around 60 years ago by the Swiss Ernst Scheidegger, who founded the new capital of the Indian states of Punjab and Haryana after the death of the general planner, is being revived or supplemented by the artist and photographer Werner Feiersinger Maciej Nowicki documented the city of Chandigarh, which Le Corbusier planned to a large extent from 1950, in the early years of its existence. Naturally, a comparison can only be made if one is familiar with Scheidegger's pictures.

The Chandigarh of today, once planned for 500,000 people, now inhabited by a million, shows in any case all traces of its young history, looks partly in good shape, partly rotten. Above all, the book teaches with its around 300 views of the urban space and its buildings sorted by functional sectors: exposed concrete does not age well, at least in tropical regions. Dark streaks of rainwater, flaking and efflorescence quickly bring the City Beautiful to an everyday level. A certain melancholy hovers over the entire book, which is due not only to the often overcast sky and the sparsely dispersed people (where are the million inhabitants?), But also to the almost touching combination of the according to the charter of Athens planned ideal city conception by Le Corbusier and his colleagues and the constant adjustments to the needs of the respective present.

Werner Feiersinger's laconic portrait-format pictures, often taken from a slightly angled perspective, also show, without value, how aspiration, planning and use do not really fit together in the city, which is divided into confusing sectors and quarters - like a piece of clothing that is there once and in which one is comfortable or badly squeezed into it. Uses seem to develop partly parallel to the city, some buildings, such as the large cinema palaces, stand empty, while life takes place outside of the strange and perplexed buildings next to them.

Parked bicycles and white cars populate the asphalt surfaces, people can only be seen as staffage figures, almost only men (often in the pullovers and windbreakers that the cliché assigns them), particularly striking on the Panjab University campus - here too, contemporary life is confronted the Corbusian utopias with the real grievances of Indian society. With their brick walls, however, the spruced up row houses in the better residential areas look almost British. One of the most touching pictures in the volume does not show architecture, but a fleet of beetle-like colorful pedal boats in which couples and small groups criss-cross on a lake.

The book is the result of an initiative by the brothers Werner and Martin Feiersinger, who come from the arts and architecture, and who recently published the second volume of their "Italomodern" project on architecture in Northern Italy in the 1960s. Research for the Chandigarh project was carried out on site together with the Viennese architects and Corbusier experts Erich Hubmann and Andreas Vass. The English-language essay by Andreas Vass, which supplements the picture, combines analyzes of the urban system of Chandigarh with impressions from a foreign city that is probably also foreign to itself.

Iris Meder


Quer # 19 spring 2016

Chandigarh Redux is a book like a journey to an exotic cult site of modern architecture: without an introduction, this excursion begins with greatly reduced information about the buildings shown through Werner Feiersinger's photo lens. More than 300 photos by the sculptor enable intensive immersion in the planned city of Chandigarh, which was planned by Le Corbusier and commissioned as the city of the future and a new beginning after the partition of India. Without ties to European building traditions, Le Corbusier and all the other architects involved - Pierre Jeanneret, Jane B. Dew and E. Maxwell Fry - were able to implement some of the ideals that were laid down in the CIAM manifesto.

Werner Feiersinger's perspectives are precisely chosen, but never posed.As a sculptor, he is interested in the sculptural quality of the buildings, which he finds in the functional sobriety and functional consistency of the supporting structure, many serial or very special-looking details, but also in the urban constellations. The present, everyday life in India and the current condition of the buildings are also documented in Chandigarh Redux. What is surprising is the use of the interiors and their furnishings.

In the back part of the book, architect Andreas Vass deals with the history of planning in an essay, offering a reflection of the current situation and an outlook on challenges for the new master plan of the city.

Although there are twice as many people living in Chandigarh as planned, the city is considered "city beautiful" and, above all, an Indian place of longing. The sculpture "Open Hand", which was designed by Le Corbusier in 1951 and completed in 1985, is featured in the city arms.

This book was published at the beginning of the year as a continuation of the publication "Chandigarh 1956" from 2010, a first publication of the photo documentation by Ernst Scheidegger, on the creation of Chandigarh by the Zurich publishing house Scheidegger & Spiess.

David Pašek