Le Corbusier

Le Corbusier

Le Corbusier

Le Corbusier


51). They are also related--by certain features such as gentle, sloping indoor ramps (plates 52, 53) and the interplay of levels (plate 57)--to the architect's earliest works; and they bear witness both to Le Corbusier's faithfulness to himself and to the permanent spirit of invention which have made him at once an architect and an incomparable artist.


I had given the house its fundamental importance, calling it 'a machine to live in,' thus exacting from it the complete and perfect answer to a well-set question.

HIS RATIONALISM is the aspect through which Le Corbusier has most often been introduced to the public. For a large number of his critics, sympathetic or otherwise, he remains the theoretician who perfected a rigorous system and whose works are subjected to a cold, standardizing logic and an uncompromising functionalism.

This partial vision is partially true. By temperament Le Corbusier is a Cartesian: logical reasoning is the framework, the foundation, if not the objective of all his enterprises. But in Le Corbusier's hands rationalism is also a weapon, a favored instrument of combat, which makes him define and diagram his thinking in trenchant formulas to justify each of his plastic gestures. This attitude often assumes an aggressive and caricature-like aspect, and one cannot assess it correctly except within its polemic context.

The mechanical revolution has upset our means of production, of knowledge and communication. During his childhood and youth, Le Corbusier witnessed the invention of the automobile, the cinema, the telegraph, the telephone and the airplane. Later, the First World War caused technology to take another leap forward. Yet this veritable mutation of means, and consequently of needs, was not followed by any change in the structure of our everyday setting, the city or dwelling place. Their lack of adaptation to their new function constitutes a scandalous situation for the thinking man: 20th century man lives in false surroundings built on outdated truths. Le Corbusier will fight for the architectural revolution.

In order to do this, he starts by a destructive operation, an unmercifully rational analysis of all the blemishes in our contemporary setting. From 1920 through 1959 (since the situation has evolved but has not changed radically), without ever allowing himself to be moved by local color or aestheticism, he has denounced them from both the structural and the technological aspects. His attacks are concentrated particularly on the modern phenomenon of the proliferation of towns. First, the structure of these 'stone deserts' makes them perishable because of their inadaptability. Circulation , adapted to the means of transportation of another age (carriages, horses), is becoming more and more difficult: bottlenecks, waste of time, mingling of different speeds, interference of pedestrians with mechanical transportation. The placing of functions (com-

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