Babina’s images create an inverse point of view, a reversal of perception for an alternative reading of space, and reality itself. Making negative space his protagonist, Babina traces the “Architectural footprints” of famous architects, coupling mysterious geometries with a vibrant color scheme.
“A model by Corbusier is the only image that brings to my mind the idea of immediate suicide.” - Ivan Chtcheglov
Despite their pranks and dirty politics, the Situationists may have been right after all. The death of architecture students will not be a result of excessive studio work, but will rather occur from the sermonizing repetition of modernist ideals that continue to be taught. In Le Corbusier's manifesto, Vers une Architecture (Toward An Architecture), he advocates for the adoption of modern architecture as the solution to 20th-century global crises, in a way that now seems rather limiting.
If the discipline doesn't move past the black-and-white photographs of the Barcelona Pavilion or the reductionist designs of the Bauhaus, students will continue to produce what may now be incorrectly associated with the “right architecture.” In order to break away from these stereotypes of what architecture should be, here are six explorations of building, curating and writing that resist these notions:
The Fondation Le Corbusier has celebrated its 50th anniversary with the unveiling of a restored apartment originally designed by the famous architect. The studio apartment on Nungesser-et-Coli in Paris was designed by Le Corbusier in 1931 for his own habitation and was completed in 1934.
The apartment underwent two years of restoration following its listing as a classified world heritage site in 2016 and is now open to the public.
This article was originally published on August 15, 2016. To read the stories behind other celebrated architecture projects, visit our AD Classics section.
Le Corbusier made an indelible mark on Modernist architecture when he declared “une maison est une machine-à-habiter” (“a house is a machine for living”). His belief that architecture should be as efficient as machinery resulted in such proposals such as the Plan Voisin, a proposal to transform the Second Empire boulevards of Paris into a series of cruciform skyscrapers rising from a grid of freeways and open parks. Not all of Le Corbusier’s concepts, however, were geared toward such radical urban transformation. His 1965 proposal for a hospital in Venice, Italy, was notable in its attempt at seeking aesthetic harmony with its unique surroundings: an attempt not to eradicate history, but to translate it.
They say one cannot separate art from the artist, or perhaps in this case, the artist from the architect. Arguably one of the most criticized architects, Le Corbusier is often portrayed as cold and controlling. Depicting his more dreamy and humorous nature, the Nasjonalmuseet's exhibition titled, “Le Corbusier by the Sea,” draws upon his memories from his summer travels along the coast of southwest France.
Hosted in Villa Stenersen, one of the National Museum's venues, the exhibition showcases Le Corbusier's work as an artist during the period 1926-36. Not only does the exhibition include fifteen of his reproduced paintings alongside a collection of sketches, but also screens two films from Le Corbusier's own footage of his surrounding views.
In the next chapter of his ongoing Urban Geometry project, self-taught Spanish photographer Andres Gallardo captures the elements of color, form, and materiality of post-war architecture in Berlin. This photo series, with installments featuring the modern marvels of Beijing, Seoul, Copenhagen, and Tallinn, among other cities, has become representative of Gallardo's personal growth from his humble start in his career as a professional photographer.
Voyage Le Corbusier, by Jacob Brillhart, collects for the first time a compendium of sketchbook drawings and watercolors of Charles-Edouard Jeanneret—a young student who would go onto become the singularly influential modernist architect, Le Corbusier. Between 1907 and 1911, he traveled throughout Europe and the Mediterranean carrying an array of drawing supplies and documenting all that he saw: classical ruins, details of interiors, vibrant landscapes, and the people and objects that populated them.
Le Corbusier was a deeply radical progressive architect, a futurist who was equally and fundamentally rooted in history and tradition. He was intensely curious, constantly traveling, drawing, painting, and writing, all in the pursuit of becoming a better designer. As a result, he found intellectual ways to connect his historical foundations with what he learned from his contemporaries. He grew from drawing nature to copying fourteenth-century Italian painting to leading the Purist movement that greatly influenced French painting and architecture in the early 1920s. All the while, he was making connections between nature, art, culture, and architecture that eventually gave him a foundation for thinking about design.
In 1948, the architect Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris, better known as Le Corbusier, released one of his most famous publications titled Modular, followed by Modular 2 (1953). In these texts, Le Corbusier expressed his support of the research that Vitrubio, DaVinci, and Leon Battista Alberti started centuries before: to find the mathematical relationship between human dimensions and nature.
The research of the previously mentioned authors also represents the search to explain the Parthenon, the temples, and cathedrals built according to exact measurements that reference a code of essentiality. Knowing what instruments were used in finding the essence of these buildings was the starting point, instruments that at first glance seemed to bypass time and space. It wouldn't be farfetched to say that the measurements came from essence: parts of the body such as the elbow, the finger, thumb, foot, arm, palm, etc. In fact, there are instruments and measurements that carry names alluding to parts of the human body, an indication of architecture's proximity to it.
It’s fair to say Eileen Gray’s E-1027 French villa hasn’t lived a charmed life: It has survived desecration by Le Corbusier, target practice by the Nazis, a stint as drug den and orgy destination, and near dereliction. However, of late, the infamous house’s future is looking more optimistic: Cap Moderne, a non-profit dedicated to rehabbing and opening the building as a cultural destination, recently launched a crowdfunding campaign to continue the building’s restoration. Over the last few years, the conservationists’ work had focused on the recreation of the building’s Eileen Gray–designed furniture. The latest efforts focus on a particular dining alcove. How that alcove—and the entire house—lost its furniture and fell into disrepair is a long story, with many twists and turns.
Neelam Cinema is one of three theaters built in Chandigarh, a modernist city master-planned by Le Corbusier. Built shortly after India gained independence in the early 1950s, the cinema is located in the bustling industrial area of Sector 17. Designed by architect Aditya Prakash under the guidance of Le Corbusier and his cousin Pierre Jeanneret, the modernist structure stands to this day in its original form and continues to screen Bollywood films. However, without UNESCO World Heritage protection, the future of the cinema remains uncertain. Below, British photographer Edmund Sumner discusses his experience of shooting the 960-seat cinema, the heart of the city, and an icon of Chandigarh.
Photographer Stefanie Zoche of Haubitz-Zoche has captured a series of vibrant images showcasing the “hybrid modernism” churches of the Southern Indian region of Kerala. The images below, also available on the artist’s website, depict the blend of modernist influences and local architectural elements that defined many Indian churches following the country's 1947 independence.
As Zoche explains, the post-independence Indian church establishment sought to differentiate itself from the historic colonial building style, and hence drew inspiration from the modernist icon Le Corbusier. The buildings in Zoche’s gallery often display an “effusively sculptural formal language and a use of intense color” with Christian symbols “directly transposed into a three-dimensional, monumental construction design.”
Six years ago Susan Szenasy and I had the honor of interviewing Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer for Metropolismagazine. While he was a federal appeals judge in Boston, Breyer played a key role in shepherding the design and construction of the John Joseph Moakley United State Courthouse, designed by Pei Cobb Freed & Partners. In 2011 Justice Breyer joined the jury of the Pritzker Prize. Given his long involvement with architecture, I thought it would be fun to catch up with him. So, on the final day of court before breaking for the summer recess, I talked to Justice Breyer about his experience as a design client, how to create good government buildings, and why public architecture matters.
Chandigarh, India’s modern planned city, is most commonly associated with the pioneering modernist master Le Corbusier, who conceived the radical urban plan and most of its important civic buildings. But credit is also due to the architect’s younger cousin and long-time collaborator, Pierre Jeanneret, who turned Le Corbusier’s sweeping vision into a reality. The cousins had worked extensively together, sharing a common, forward-thinking design sensibility. Appointed to senior architect, the Swiss-born Jeanneret oversaw the ambitious project on the ground and proved himself particularly skilled at connecting with the professionals and local community alike. “Effectively, he is respected like a father, liked as a brother by the fifty or so young men who have applied to work in the Architect’s Office,” wrote Corbusier in praise of his cousin.
From the Fundación Arquia Blog, architect José Ramón Hernandez brings us an article that reflects on projects that can only be appreciated because of who they were created by. If it weren't for the fact that they bear the signature of their illustrious creator, they most likely would have gone completely unnoticed or even despised.
Mohr purchased the apartment in 2016 and embarked on a journey of demolition, measurement, and extensive renovation including lowering ceilings and moving walls in order to recreate the interior likely envisioned by Le Corbusier.
In the ambit of architecture, much of the twentieth century is marked by a production that reads, in general, as modern. The foundations of this work have been the subject of discussion for at least six decades, bringing together conflicting opinions about the true intention behind the modern gestalt.
Cape Town native Alexis Christodoulou is a winemaker by day but also dabbles in the art of 3D visualization. His Instagram (@teaaalexis) is a striking composition of intricate spaces rich with color, light, and materiality. Crafted entirely from scratch, each of Christodoulou's digital worlds appears to be influenced by many of the modernist masters. In a recent interview with Curbed, Christodoulou lists Aldo Rossi, David Chipperfield and Le Corbusier among his inspirations.
Much has been said about the new "Instagram aesthetic." Put that together with the emerging role of Instagram and other social media platforms in the design process, and the result is a new type of digital art form. Christodoulou's page is the creative collection of a year-long personal challenge to regularly create and publish images of his own fantasy worlds, which has resulted in a community of nearly 20K followers.
In the 1920s, Dutch-born artist Piet Mondrian began painting his iconic black grids populated with shifting planes of primary colors. By moving beyond references to the world around him, his simplified language of lines and rectangles known as Neo Plasticism explored the dynamics of movement through color and form alone. Though his red, yellow and blue color-blocked canvases were important elements of the De Stijl movement in the early 1900s, almost a century later Mondrian’s abstractions still inspire architects across the globe.
But, what is it about these spatial explorations that have captivated artists and designers for so long?