Concerning Town Planning


The following notes are to introduce, not this book (the origin of which is fully explained by the author in Part 3) but, to those who may not know much about him, the man who wrote it. Le Corbusier's name has now almost household currency in England, but his principles and achievements remain little known and less understood. Hitherto only two of his many books have been translated into English and they date from 1923 and 1927. Twenty years later he is writing with as much perception and freshness as ever, and this, the first to appear in English, is only one of several for which he has been responsible since the war.

Le Corbusier is a French architect forming part of the Swiss, Charles Edouard Jeanneret. Le Corbusier is not a man, but an ideal. These two distinctions, upon which Le Corbusier himself insists, are essential to an understanding of his plastic and literary work and aims.

When Mr. Jeanneret was a young man, the French art critic, artist and editor, Ozenfant, invited him to subscribe articles to a review setting forth his notions on what new direction and form art and architecture might or should take. So tremendously did this question and this occasion stir Mr. Jeanneret, and so fierce were his sentiments, that he found when they were set down, that they constituted a standard which in its intensity and precision transcended all that his everyday label connoted. He therefore signed this statement of his ideal with a different name and he chose that of a French forbear, Le Corbusier. The name Le Corbusier, from signifying an ideal, gradually came to be an overseer, strictly controlling the professional life of Mr. Jeanneret; maintaining a standard, prompting this avowal, forbidding that expedient.

Mr. Jeanneret, though born in Switzerland, was of French stock. But Le Corbusier was born and baptised in France, French in roots and in flower. His lyricism, passion, flamboyance, lightness and profusion, his studied masculinity, are all French, not Swiss, in kind. This is worth mentioning because if you start off with the common opinion that Le Corbusier is a Swiss, you put an extra distance between him and your understanding of him.

Of Le Corbusier's host, Mr. Jeanneret, I have heard an elderly Frenchman say, "He is one of Nature's saints." "Saint" has the wrong . . .

Additional information

Includes content by:
  • Clive Entwistle
Publisher: Place of publication:
  • New Haven
Publication year:
  • 1948


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