Aditya Prakash fonds
The Aditya Prakash fonds, 1947-2008, records the professional activities of modernist Indian architect Aditya Prakash from his time as a student in London in 1947 until his death in 2008. His career as an architect, photographer, artist, writer and academic are documented through textual records, books and serials, sound recordings, photographic materials and drawings.
His career in architecture is recorded through more than 80 architectural projects from his work on Punjab agricultural universities in the 1960s, in Chandigarh in the 1970s and from his firm, Arcon Architects, established in 1982 with his daughter Chetna Purnami. His time as a junior architect on the Chandigarh Capitol Project in the 1950s is sparsely recorded in the fonds, but some photographs from this time are included. Prakash’s career as an academic at the Chandigarh College of Architecture from 1968-1980 and his continued research afterwards are well documented through his writings, publications, reference material and correspondence. His research on subjects such as environmentalism, sustainability, Chandigarh and urbanisation are predominant in these materials. The fonds also records Prakash’s views on architectural issues and advocacy through his personal diaries, correspondence with friends, family and colleagues, and documents from his involvement in architectural organizations.
His other professional endeavours, including architectural photography, art and his amateur theatre career are also well documented. Photographic materials dating from before 1970 show his early interest in photography. The records also capture Prakash’s interest in modern art early in his career, his sketches and paintings, his exhibitions and his long-term involvement in the Lalit Kala Akademi (art academy) after 1980. Finally, Prakash’s role as director, set-designer and actor with his theatre troop Abhinet are documented, along with his architectural interest in theatre design and construction.
Many of the materials in this fonds are fragile. Extra vigilance is required during handling.
Prior to their transfer to the CCA, materials in the Aditya Prakash fonds had no discernable order.
The materials have now been arranged into five series:
AP206.S1: Architectural projects
AP206.S2: Publications and writings
AP206.S3: Professional papers
AP206.S4: Reference material
AP206.S5: Personal correspondence
Aditya Prakash, born 1924, was among the first generation of modernist architects and thinkers in India. His rich career as an architect, artist, writer, academic, photographer, set-designer, theatre director and actor was devoted to the modernization of India in the postcolonial era. Prakash’s seminal work was his role as a junior architect on the Chandigarh Capital Project. This was an effort led by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, with Le Corbusier as its head architect, to raise a new Punjab capital on the farmland of northern India.
Aditya Prakash began studying architecture in 1947 at the London Polytechnic (now The Bartlett) before moving to Glasgow to work in a small architectural firm. Prakash returned to India in 1952, upon gaining employment under Le Corbusier, who had just been commissioned to lead the Chandigarh Capital Project. The project team under Le Corbusier consisted of Pierre Jeanneret, Maxwell Fry, Jane Drew and nine Indian architects, Prakash among them. At first, his job was to assist the European architects, but eventually he was given his own projects to complete. Together, these architects built a new city where none had previously existed, largely in the strict modernist style and urban form dictated by Le Corbusier’s model.
Following the creation of Chandigarh, Prakash moved to adjacent cities, where the government had commissioned him to build three agricultural universities in response to the threat of famine in the country. As his solo career advanced, Prakash would go on to produce more than 80 architectural projects around Northern India, which included academic institutions and housing, shops, homes, petrol stations, hospitals, banks and theatres. His most noteworthy project was the Tagore Theatre in Chandigarh, built in the early 1960s. Around 1982, he formed his private practice, Arcon Architects, where he worked alongside his daughter, architect Chetna Purnami.
While Prakash’s architecture was shaped by his commitment to modernist ideals, so to were his other artistic endeavors. Prakash is well recognized as a modernist painter whose works can be found in collections world-wide. From the start of his career in architecture, Prakash took a keen interest in architectural photography and often photographed his own buildings and the urban and rural landscapes that surrounded them. Prakash’s poetry was often tied to ideas about architecture and life in Chandigarh, and both books he published were written largely in free-verse. In addition, Prakash had a life-long passion for theatre, resulting in the design of several theatres and eventually leading him to form an amateur theatre company based out of the Tagore Theatre.
Aditya Praskash also fostered a rich career in academia, serving as the Principal of the Chandigarh College of Architecture from 1968-1982. His research and teaching focused on ideas of ecological design and self-sustainability and he advocated for mixed-use developments and recycling programs. His work called for the integration of the rural into the urban environment, leading him to critique the Chandigarh Capitol Project, Le Corbusier, and to look into improvements for the city. Notably, Prakash pushed for Chandigarh to develop of new system of roads, raised 10 to 12 feet above ground, in order to remove the density of motorized vehicles in the fast-growing city and to repopulate public spaces at ground level with pedestrians and the informal sector. Prakash died at the age of 84 on his way to one of his theatre performances.
Vikramaditya Prakash, Chandigarh's Le Corbusier: the struggle for modernity in postcolonial India (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2002), 3.
 Prakash, Chandigarh's Le Corbusier, 14.
 Vikramaditya Prakash, One Continuous Line: Art, Architecture and Urbanism of Aditya Prakash (Ahmedabad, India: Mapin Publishing Pvt. Ltd., 2019), 107.
Prakash, One Continuous Line, 268.
 Prakash, One Continuous Line, 164-181.
The materials in the Aditya Prakash fonds remained in the custody of his wife, Savitri Prakash, after his death at their home in Chandigarh, India. The materials were subsequently transferred to his son Vikramaditya Prakash in Seattle, Washington before their arrival at the CCA in April 2019.
When citing the collection as a whole, use the citation: Aditya Prakash fonds, Collection Centre Canadien d’Architecture/Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montréal. When citing specific collection material, please refer to the object’s specific credit line.
© Copyright Vikramaditya Prakash
English, Hindi, Urdu
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