It's been a while since I've posted here; for no other reason than getting work done doesn't leave much time for other pursuits. Sometimes it's good to just leave the projects behind and take a breather. A few weeks ago, we went to see the show on Le Corbusier at MoMA.
It was the first time I'd critically thought about his work since leaving college. Sue and I both had professors who had either been taught by Le Corbusier, or were heavily influenced by his work. He was the shining light in the early days of our architectural education. The show was exceptionally enlightening on many levels. It was the first time I'd ever seen his early work. His first professor was very much into the Arts & Crafts movement popular in the early part of the 20th C. Le Corbusier (then known as Charles-Edouard Jeanneret) designed a few houses in that style that are very reminiscent of Joseph Maria Olbrich's work of the time:
Olbrich - Christiansen House
It goes without saying that Le Corbusier was a major force in developing the language of modern architecture. Even just saying "modern" conjures up visions in my mind of white walls, columns and expanses of glass as evoked in his motto of "Space, Light, Trees". After seeing the show, what I couldn't understand is how someone who adored Paris as much as he did, totally ignored how humans lived in an urban setting. His solution to raise buildings up off the ground, denying interaction with the street level, made no sense in a cityscape. And in fact, this was the downfall of his urban planning and design. Maybe he realized this as well on some level because, after trying to get his urban vision built around the world (thankfully without too much success), he returned to an architectural language much more rooted in vernacular architectural forms.
Although I love Corb's freestanding houses and later sculptural works, the show made me sad. I think it's because when I was a young architecture student, we were taught in such absolute terms. Modern architecture was good, and everything else was considered passé. I would've loved to have seen Le Corbusier's early work when I was a student, and to see the evolution in his architectural style. I also would have loved knowing that he used color on the walls, and that his work was not all pure white.
|Villa Savoye, 1931|
|Le Cabanon - note mirrored shutter, 1949|
|Villa Le Lac, 1924|
|Maisons Jaoul, 1955|