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Design: Le Corbusier July 30, 2014

Posted by anagasto in building, history.
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Le Corbusier wanted to come to terms with life conditioned by large cities and machines. He worked on the idea of a machine made house called the Domino house: it would be built on pillars without structural partitions (the house would not be upheld by inner or outer walls, but by pillars); there would be long horizontally continuous windows and a flat roof with a garden.


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Le Corbusier is best known for the chapel he built at the little town of Ronchamp, in France:


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They say that even Frank Gehry sometimes travels there on pilgrimage to learn about the ingredients of its beauty:

For the famous roof of the chapel  Le Corbusier had looked into the engineering of an airfoil***.
***An airfoil is the shape of a wing or blade (of a propeller, rotor or turbine) or sail as seen in cross-section. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Airfoil

The walls of the chapel are thick, and as the windows are set  at various angles, each a different size….

they let in light in all directions and colours:

→ → see Liao Yusheng’s gallery at http://figure-ground.com/ronchamp/

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It was Le Corbusier’s belief that basic happiness has very much to do with

(quote)
“sun in their houses,
sky through their windowpanes,
trees to look at as soon as they step outside”

Silence is not mentioned as a priority, nor is living space, but he spent years thinking and writing about city design.

The issue is whether human existence is necessarily tied to nature. In the US there is a lot of usable land, but in many parts of Europe and Asia people have to make do with very little space and get used to it. Russia is a special case. For some reason people there often live in terribly crowded minuscule apartments, but there are immense regions of emptiness.

Corbusier was Swiss, and in Switzerland living space is expensive; there are large empty regions, but they are not inhabitable.  You can read him here in his own writing, free

http://www2.gwu.edu/~art/Temporary_SL/177/pdfs/Corbu.pdf

but it is not a good text; maybe it was only meant as a program, except for one blunt paragraph at the end. He is basically a moralist, and he sounds like a preacher and a born teacher, very easy to grasp, entertaining to read…for a while.

(Remember that two famous protestant reformers came from tiny Switzerland: Zwingli and Calvin.)

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“Corbu was modern architecture’s conscience” — from the blog at
http://42ndblackwatch1881.wordpress.com/2009/04/25/le-corbusier-the-father-of-international-style-design
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Added 2015

Apparently, it has been known for a long time that Le Corbusier responded positively to fascist trends in France. He seems to have nelieved that fascism would do away with disorder and corruption. And he seems to have given little thought to “the dignity of man as man” (Leo Strauss).  — However, in the medium run he would certainly have turned against Hitler’s solemnity theatralics. And then Speer’s dramatic Neoclassical ?

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Le Corbusier was born Charles Edouard Jeanneret in 1887, in LaChaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, an all-out industrial town that even drew Karl Marx’s attention and now has become a World Heritage city for the way it has been organized around its watch industries.

He had a little “castle” that he himself built of wooden boards and little else, where he used to spend his summer vacation on the French coast.

This photo and the one of “the radiant city” above are from a blog at http://membres.multimania.fr/floreportages/corbu/Corbu.html

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Below is another quote: Le Corbusier describes a modern trend to build all housing along a street:

“The street becomes appalling, noisy, dusty, dangerous; automobiles can scarcely do more than crawl along it; the pedestrians, herded together on the sidewalks, get in each other’s way, bump into each other, zigzag from side to side; the whole scene is like a glimpse of purgatory.”

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