ATMA
ABOUT ATMA
MANAGING COMMITTE
PAST PRESIDENT
MEMBERS
ROLES & ACTIVITIES
IMPORTANT EVENTS
TEXTILE INDUSTRY
PRESENT
PERSPECTIVE
VALUE CHAIN
GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE
STRATEGIES
AHMEDABAD TEXTILE INDUSTRY
CHRONOLOGY
STATISTICS
BEYOND BUSINESS
CITIZENSHIP/ CIVIC
AFFAIRS
INSTITUTE BUILDING
SOCIAL CAUSES
BUILDING
ARCHITECTURAL LANDMARK
DRAWINGS
PICTURE GALLERY
VISITORS BOOK
AN ARCHITECTURAL LANDMARK
The present office building of ATMA is a modern monument and a landmark in architectural history. The building is, at once, a symbol of the patronage and modernistic aspirations of the Ahmedabad textile community as well as a refined example of the work of its Swiss-French architect - Charles Eduoard Jeanneret(1887-1965), better known as Le Corbusier.

In 1951, Jawaharlal Nehru invited Corbusier to India to plan and design the city of Chandigarh. During this visit, Corbusier was invited to Ahmedabad by Chinubhai Chimanbhai, the erstwhile mayor of Ahmedabad. Surottam Hutheesing, the then president of AMOA, commissioned Corbusier to build the Association’s new headquarters. Corbusier was commissioned a total of five buildings in Ahmedabad, two institutions and three residences, of which one was not built. The Mill Owners’ Association Building, as it is known, was the first commission to be completed in 1954.

The building is located on Ashram Road, in the western part of the city, overlooking the river Sabarmati. A ceremonial ramp makes for a grand approach into a triple height entrance hall, open to the wind. Arrival is on the first floor, where (as per the original design) the executives’ offices and boardroom are located. The ground floor houses the work-spaces of the clerks and a separate, single-story canteen at the rear. On the third floor is a high, top-lit auditorium with a roof canopy and a curved, enclosing wall, in addition to a generous lobby. The east and west facades are in the form of sun breakers or brise-soleil, one of Corbusier’s many formal inventions, which, while avoiding harsh sun, permit visual connection and air movement. While the brise-soleil act as free facades made of rough shuttered concrete, the north and south sides, built in rough brickwork, are almost unbroken.

Corbusier was one of the main torchbearers of the Modern Movement. His concepts of an international style of architecture responsive to local climate and culture, and the honest expression of materials, were most subtly expressed in his India projects. In these works, Corbusier’s need for the “resolution of opposites” found its expression in “the juxtaposition of diverse and often seemingly contradictory architectural elements”. On the second floor of the Mill Owners’ Building, the lobby is treated as “an open space defined by harsh, angular forms and the auditorium as an enclosed space delineated by soft, curvilinear forms …two contradictory elements that both need the other in order to exist.”

In designing the office, Le Corbusier understood the essence of the Association, very well. Since 1891, AMOA had provided an institutional framework for the close family ties of the city’s largely Jain, textile mill owners. Corbusier expressed the institution’s dual character - the public and the private - through his concept of the house as a palace (Une maison - un palais). Villa Cook, designed by him in 1926 and based on this same concept, is considered to be the closest antecedent of the Mill Owners’ Building. Conversely, many of his later projects, most notably the Carpenter Centre for Visual Arts at Harvard, benefited tremendously from some of the experiments carried out in this particular building.

According to Corbusier, the expression of monumentality was one of modern architecture’s important tasks. The aim of this monumentality was to express the power of humans acting together and to celebrate the essential nobility of Man. In his own words: “A palace is a house endowed with dignity.” It was the textile industry which gave Ahmedabad its economic, and consequently, political importance, and in housing the business activities of the captains of the textile industry, the architecture of the Mill Owners’ Association Building is a tribute to this notion.

Of Ahmedabad and his association with the city, Corbusier had said: “With a full hand I have received, with a full hand I give.” Corbusier acknowledged the vision and aesthetic enlightenment of his clients, the mill owners of the city. It took courage and insight to engage the architect and his radical ideas, but in doing so, the mill owners demonstrated that modern architecture is a means to express a city’s aspirations.

The present administration of ATMA is sparing no effort to maintain Corbusier’s legacy to Ahmedabad. The building receives many visitors from all over the world. Besides showcasing its architectural contribution, ATMA is contemplating ways of opening up this unique building for a number of public activities. In this way, it can ‘give’ something back to the city from which it has received so much.

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