Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Aloof Modernist: Le Corbusier Architecture

Le Corbusier (born Charles-Edouard Jeanneret) was one of the most influential designers and architects of the 20th century. Even 47 years after his death on August 27 1965, he is remembered for his contribution to modern architecture because of designs that portrayed a utopian sense of purpose.
Early in his career, Le Corbusier often traveled around Europe. In Paris, he learned about using concrete and reinforced steel in structures; in Berlin, he was taught about industrial processes and machine design. In the Balkans, he obsessed over Greek Parthenon. These experiences would later form an essential part of his designs.
With peers such as Mies Van Der Rohe, Walter Gropius and even Pablo Picasso, Le Corbusier developed an idea of architecture that was more focused on function rather than form.
In his words, ' decoration always hides a mistake in construction." The construction of the Villa Savoy, on the outskirts of Paris sums up this belief by incorporating his famous 'Five points of Architecture' which deal with elevated housing, continuity of landscape, free floor plans, illumination and the simplicity of the facade. As he detailed in his book, Towards An Architecture, he believed that a house was " a machine for living"
After World War 1, Le Corbusier became involved in dealing with the rise of slums in post-war Europe by building low cost functional communes for large scale housing. The most famous of these is the united Habitation in Marseilles, also known as 'the Radiant City'. It features 237 apartments with facilities for recreation and leisure encased in block shaped and fortress-like facades dominated by strong vertical and horizontal lines (which subsequently gave rise to the form known as brutalism).
In the 1950s, Le Corbusier tested his ideas on an even grander scales when he was commissioned to plan the city of Chndigarh in India. The city is testament to Le Corbusier's belief in large, functional and spacious block structures with facades of buffeted concrete. The Legislative Assembly building (illustrated above) in particular, with its curved roof edge, has become the counter-piece of the city and representative of what Le Corbusier referred to as his "engineer's aesthetic".