Seeing: Museum of Fine Arts, Chandigarh

Its rare for one to visit architectural projects without expectation. Usually the visits are planned with a particular building in mind. We might be familiar with the building already through the photographs or exhaustively discussing them in classrooms. Personally a few projects have delightfully surpassed the visuals for me, when i actually visited them (like IIM Bangalore, Sabarmati Ashram Museum, Villa Savoy). I am not saying every project should surpass the photos, actually they need not to. Because buildings take more time to reveal themselves (even the more flamboyant ones like Guggenheim museum). Our guided visits are short, rarely doing justice to the actual experience. One cannot go beach in the morning, to appreciate the sunset. One has to dwell in them. Like if you go to the Boa Nova Cafe in Portugal designed by Siza, one could be easily disappointed if one does not dwell. Have coffee. Stare at the sea. Get bored. One has always to wait till its get boring. The spaces start revealing themselves, only enough to be remembered as a backdrop for the act of having coffee looking over a vast expanse of sea. They have a humble existence. Architecture without adjectives.

When i went on study trip to Chandigarh few years back with WCFA students, i had one such experience. I was stunned here  to have not heard (because of gaps of documentation in history of early modern Indian architecture) of the building at all before. It is the Museum of Fine Arts (1975) designed by B.P.Mathur inside the university campus. The scale was brilliant. A simple module was repeated with grace, to create controlled internal gallery experience.

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Note the interior images are not from the author of the blog. Plan is from the resourceful Chandigarh Guide by Vikramditya Prakash