chapter  7
The modernist historic urban landscape of Islamabad, Pakistan
Pages 16

Modern architecture is not modern anymore, at least not in the two canonical cities and one citadel of the Indian subcontinent: Islamabad, Pakistan (established in 1959); Chandigarh, India (1961); and Sher-e-Bangla Nagor, Bangladesh (1961). These were designed by three of the most sought after mid-century Western planners and architects – Constantinos Doxiadis, Le Corbusier and Louis I. Kahn, respectively – to serve an ideal of cutting edge modernism for these countries. However, after fi ve decades since their foundation, on the one hand these cities achieved a new status as heritage sites by representing their countries’ cultural past, but on the other hand in many aspects, changes and alterations of the original design and planning has been inevitable. In the face of unpredictable change of urban use, architectural programme, expanding city boundaries and growing real estate stakes pressures, these once modern designs are under constant pressure of change and adoption to new situations. In most cases, these demands for expansion of original buildings or adjustment come without prior planning. Despite this reality, citizens and professionals in recent time have rose against laissezfaire change and demanded a more sophisticated policy that would allow changes and expansion without destroying the original ideas of these cities and monuments ( Daily Star 2003; Save greenbelt, save Islamabad beauty n.d.; Rapp 2011). The recent plea and large-scale public campaigns for saving the modernist historic core of Islamabad, Sher-e-Bangla Nagor of Dhaka, and Chandigarh from the voracious grasp of market pressure or even internal functional needs to alter and extend the existing buildings indicate an emerging collective consensus, until now unprecedented, to consider these ‘modern’ cities as historic cultural landscapes, and to conserve their culturally signifi cant tangible and intangible aspects.