Material Masters: Le Corbusier’s Love for Concrete

To celebrate the first anniversary of our US Materials Catalog, this week ArchDaily is presenting a three-part series on “Material Masters,” showing how certain materials have helped to inspire some of the world’s greatest architects.

Le Corbusier‘s love affair with , evident in a number of his nearly 75 projects, began early. Having already designed his first house, the Villa Fallet, at the age of just 17, in 1907 the young architect embarked on a series of travels throughout central Europe on a mission of artistic education. In Paris, he apprenticed at the office of Auguste Perret, a structural rationalist and pioneer of reinforced concrete, followed in 1910 by a short stint at Peter Behrens’ practice in Berlin. These formative experiences initiated a life-long exploration of concrete in ’s work.

How ‘Vandalizing’ a Classic Exposes the Hypocrisy of Today’s Modernists

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These images from artist Xavier Delory show Le Corbusier’s celebrated Villa Sovoye in a shocking state of disrepair. With stones and spray paint, vandals have tragically defaced its pristine walls and windows. Don’t panic: the images shown here are photoshopped. But what if they weren’t? In this article originally published by Metropolis Magazine as “Modernism in Ruins: Artist “Vandalizes” a Le Corbusier Masterpiece,” AJ Artemel explores how our shock and dismay at such images exposes an underlying hypocrisy in our reverence for famous modernist works, and proposes that perhaps  and vandalism are more closely related than we thought.

Spotlight: Le Corbusier

© Willy Rizzo

“Space and light and order. Those are the things that men need just as much as they need bread or a place to sleep.” 

The Swiss-born architect, urban planner, designer, painter and writer Charles Edouard Jeanneret-Gris (1887-1965), better known as Le Corbusier, is widely regarded as one of the pioneers of the modernist movement in .  Over the course of his five-decade career, he saw work built across Europe, , and the United States.

AR Issues: Redefining Modulor Man for a New Era of Inclusivity

Courtesy of The Architectural Review

ArchDaily is continuing our partnership with The Architectural Review, bringing you short introductions to the themes of the magazine’s monthly editions. In this post, we take a look at AR’s September 2014 issue, which includes an examination of the sometimes difficult relationship between and disability. Here, AR Editor Catherine Slessor argues that we should adapt our understanding of ’s Modulor Man to be more inclusive, asking “What happens when disability is not seen as a problem for architecture to solve, but as a potential generative impetus?”

From Vitruvius to Le Corbusier, the mathematical proportions of the human form have historically been used to shape and define architecture. Man is, essentially, the ultimate measure of all things. The famous Modulor Man was originally based on the height of the average Frenchman (1.75 metres, or 5 feet 9 inches) but was later increased to a more strapping 1.83 metres (6 feet) because of Corb’s penchant for English detective novels in which (literally) upstanding characters such as policemen, were always 6 feet tall.

The Berlage Archive: Elia Zenghelis (2009)

In this 2009 lecture titled “Fabricating Ideology and Architectural Education,” seminal architect, educator, and co-founder of OMA Elia Zenghelis discusses the development of ideologies that shape architectural discourse vis-a-vis architectural education. Arguing that architectural education is motivated by religious, socio-political, and economic principles, Zenghelis makes the case that the war-torn 20th century has been an era of upheaval and conflict, resulting in the loss of historical context and a confused state for artists and architects. Proposing the idea that is a servant of power, and is thus intrinsically intertwined with political and societal trends, Zenghelis urges a return to a contextualized understanding of architectural history in order for contemporary architects to develop a sensitive and nuanced approach to their practice. 

Discussing his relationships and collaborations with former students and colleagues Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas, and Peter Eisenman, as well as the political and architectural legacy of such giants as Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe, Elia Zenghelis provides a compelling conversation about the inherent role of architecture in political discourse.

Don’t miss the other lectures in The Berlage Archive series

25 Free Architecture Books You Can Read Online

If you don’t have access to an library (and even if you do), sifting through shelves can take hours. Buying books can be even more painful — for your wallet, at least. Instead, why not browse this list of 25 books that are all free and easily accessible online? Some are well-known classics of , but we hope you find a few surprises as well.

Video: Artist Animates 5 Iconic Modern Homes

Five of history’s most iconic modern houses are re-created as illustrations in this two-minute video created by Matteo Muci. Set to the tune of cleverly timed, light-hearted music, the animation constructs the houses piece-by-piece on playful pastel backgrounds. The five homes featured in the short but sweet video are Le Courbusier’s Villa Savoye, Gerrit Rietveld’s Rietveld Schröder House, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House, ’s Glass House and ’s Fallingwater.

Vive la France: A Round-Up of French AD Classics

© Flavio Bragaia

In honor of Bastille Day, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite AD Classics built in France. From Bernard Tschumi‘s Parc de la Villette to our most popular classic project, Le Corbusier‘s Villa Savoye, take a moment to revisit these renowned works.

Rare Footage of Le Corbusier Discussing his Work, Poetry & the “Ideal City”

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Check out this rare footage that captures Le Corbusier as a “young man of 71-years-old” surrounded by paintings and discussing his work, poetry and the “ideal city“ within his 1933, self-designed flat.

9 Architects Reflect on the Homes That Most Inspired Them

The homes that inspire architects.

Where do you receive inspiration? Nalina Moses asked the question to nine contemporary residential architects, asking each to choose one residence that had left an impression on them. The following answers were first published on the AIA’s website in the article “Homing Instinct.”

When nine accomplished residential architects were asked to pick a house—any house—that has left the greatest impression on them as designers, most of their choices ran succinctly along the canon of American or European Modern . Two—Alvar Aalto’s Villa Mairea and ’s La Maison de Verre—were even tapped twice.

If the houses these designers chose weren’t surprising, the reasons they chose them were. Rather than groundbreaking style or technologies, what they cited were the moments of comfort, excitement, and refinement they offered: the restful proportions of a bedroom, the feel of a crafted wood handrail, an ocean view unfolding beyond an outdoor stair.

AD Classics: Weissenhof-Siedlung Houses 14 and 15 / Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret

© Hassan Bagheri / hbarchitectural.com

The two-family structure known as Houses 14 and 15, designed by Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret in 1927, is one of the earliest built manifestations of the Five Points of a New Architecture.  Located on the outskirts of Stuttgart, the attached dwellings were part of the Weissenhof-Siedlung (Weissenhof Estate), an experimental housing development and exposition of Modern architecture.  A progressive precedent for the emerging International Style, Le Corbusier’s work in serves as a critical prototype in the development and realization of the Swiss architect’s architectural identity, which would revolutionize 20th century .

The Eileen Gray Movie: E1027, Insidious Chauvinism, and “The Price of Desire”

In a public interview, director Mary McGuckian speaks with Shane O’Toole of DoCoMoMo Ireland about her soon-to-be-released film, “The Price of Desire,” a biopic about the influential Irish modernist Eileen Gray – narrated from the perspective of Le Corbusier, no less. McGuckian explains how the film and the extensive research behind it went far beyond the usual remit of a biopic. Indeed, not only did it spawn an accompanying documentary (“Gray Matters“, directed by Marco Orsini) and book, it even played a pivotal role in the restoration of E1027, Gray’s seminal house design, to a point where it was possible to film on location.

McGuckian explains how the film deals with “the universal female experience, particularly for creative women… the lifetime experience of was a combination of the time she lived in, the personality she was, and for want of a better expression, insidious chauvinism.” The film casts Le Corbusier as Gray’s rival, who defaced E1027 with his infamous murals, but also uses a little cinematic license to present him as the admirer who tells “the story, from his point of view, of how came to be the most important, inspirational and innovative architect of their generation, and gives her back the right to be recognized for that work.”

Kikutake’s Sky House: Where Metabolism & Le Corbusier Meet

Sky House, Tokyo, 1958. Image © Kawashima Architecture Photograph Office

In this article, first published in the Australian Design Review as “The Meeting of East and West: Kikutake and Le Corbusier“, Michael Holt outlines the cross-fertilization of ideas that helped spawn the Japanese Metabolist movement, focusing on how Le Corbusier’s ideals were key in the design of one of the movement’s most enigmatic projects, Kiyonori Kikutake’s Sky House.

Japanese architect Kiyonori Kikutake’s Sky House (1958) remains an exemplary project that defines the Metabolist agenda but, more significantly, underscores the notion that a single-family dwelling can be ideologically recursive and strategic. Kikutake, however, was not without a somewhat unlikely precedent in the renowned Le Corbusier.

Both architects established an order and method of working via their smallest designs – Kikutake in Sky House and Le Corbusier at Villa Savoye (1929) – and developed their notions through written accounts (Kikutake’s Metabolist Manifesto, 1960 and Le Corbusier’s Purist Manifesto, predating the built work, in 1918). Finally, each scales up their ideas to the level of the urban through Kikutake’s Tower-Shaped Community Project (1959) and Le Corbusier’s Urbanisme at Chandigarh, India (1953). To locate the origin of the influence, it is necessary to first examine Le Corbusier’s position as the figurehead of Congrès International d’Architecture Moderne (CIAM).

Read on for more about this unlikely chain of influence

Le Corbusier, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, and Their Flights of Fancy

(Left) Antoine de Saint-Exupéry in Alghero, Sardinia, May 1944, (Right) leaning against his Plan Voisin. Image © (Left) The John and Annamaria Phillips Foundation, (Right) Fondation

This article by Avinash Rajagopal, originally published in as ‘The Little Prince’ and Le Corbusier investigates the link between Le Corbusier and Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, writer of The Little Prince.

On October 22, 1929, a French architect got on the inaugural flight of the Aeroposta Argentina, a pioneering airline service that flew from Buenos Aires to Asuncion del Paraguay, flown by a French co-pilot. The act of flying would deeply influence the creative output of both passenger and pilot.

The former, of course, was Le Corbusier. The latter was Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, later to be famous as the creator of The Little Prince (1943), the well-beloved tale of a planet-hopping, fox-befriending, flower-loving space child.

Read on after the break for more about the pair

Le Corbusier’s Ronchamp, Vandalized

AD Classics: / . Image © Cara Hyde-Basso

Originally posted in Metropolis Magazine, Samuel Medina reports on the irreparable damage caused by vandalism at Le Corbusier’s Chapel of Ronchamp.  

On Friday, a nun gave warning that the Chapel of Ronchamp, considered by many to be one of the key architectural works of the last century, had been vandalized. When police arrived on the scene, they found signs of forced entry: a stained-glass window, one of many executed by Le Corbusier, was broken and a concrete trunk was missing. As Le Monde reports, the intruders had also attempted to gain entry via a door. The overall damage was, according to some, “priceless” because the stained-glass had borne an original illustration by Le Corbusier. An initial assessment from the department of historical monuments found the window to be irreparable.

AD Classics: Mill Owners’ Association Building / Le Corbusier

© motaleb architekten

Le Corbusier was commissioned by the president of the Mill Owners’ Association to design the organization’s headquarters in Ahmedabad, a city historically active in India’s textile trade. The building is a physical manifesto representing ’s proposal for a modern Indian . Constructed in 1954, the Mill Owners’ Association Building is considered the first of four completed commissions in Ahmedabad. 

Where Automobiles & Architecture Meet

Audi A3 Assembly Line. Image © Audi

Where does architecture and the automobile industry meet? Many architects, including Le Corbusier, have tried to understand how building construction can be more like car manufacturing, with mass-produced parts that can be easily assembled on site.  recently explored the idea at their Design with a Purpose: Built Tough panel discussion held at New York’s Center for Architecture. Click here to read The New York Times‘ coverage of the discussion, and check out ArchDaily editor-in-chief’s thoughts on cars and architecture here.

Robots, Cars and Architecture

Ville Savoye (photo by Tim Brown), its floorplan and the Voiture Minimum, the car designed by Le Corbusier.

Since the dawn of the modern era, there has been a strong relationship between and the car, especially in the works of Le Corbusier.

Le Corbusier was fascinated by his car (the Voisin C7 Lumineuse); the aesthetics of this functional, mass produced machine deeply influenced his designs. Its focus on function translated into his concept that houses should be “machines for living” and inspired a series of experiments of mass produced, pre-fab houses (such as the Maison Citrohan). Most of these concepts were later materialized in the iconic Villa Savoye, whose floorplan was even designed to accommodate the car’s turning radius.