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Le Corbusier: crap / not crap

Discussion in 'photography, graphics & art' started by teuchter, Mar 3, 2009.


Le Corbusier ...

  1. Visionary architectural genius

  2. Pompous self-aggrandising megalomaniac loon

  3. Never heard of him

Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. teuchter

    teuchter je suis teuchter

    I'd be interested to know what the popular opinion on Le Corbusier is ... and what this is based upon.

    This thread is partly spurred by the major exhibition currently at the Barbican in London (previously in Liverpool).

    If you've never heard of him, he was a Swiss-French architect who came to prominence in the 20s and 30s, as one of the main proponents of what became known as the "International Style", one of the main strands of Modernism which continues to have a strong influence on architecture now.

    He coined the often quoted phrase "a house is a machine for living in".

    This was the kind of thing he was doing at that time:


    Later in his career he developed a more sculptural and idiosyncratic style, designing stuff like this church:


    As well as his architectural work he had an interest in town planning ... proposing for example to do this to the centre of Paris:


    His Unite de Habitation:


    were a kind of prototype for the tower blocks built the world over in the following decades, although this mass-built stuff built by others in most cases ignored many of the features of Corbusier's original designs.

    He was also a tireless self-promoter producing many books and publications throughout his career.

    You can read a bit more about him here:




    and there's a thread about his project at Chandigarh in India here

    I'd be interested to hear what people think, especially those who have been to the exhibition. Poll to follow.
  2. spanglechick

    spanglechick High Empress of Dressing Up

    I'm with him up until the tower blocks. you only have to drive past / through the aylesbury estate between peckham and elephant and castle to see how wrongheaded it all is.
  3. dodgepot

    dodgepot New Member

    not crap.
  4. fogbat

    fogbat The Talibum

    He made great cognac, too.
  5. teuchter

    teuchter je suis teuchter

    He would probably have been horrified to see those too, though.

    Not to say that his Unite towerblocks (and most certainly his town planing ideas) don't have their flaws, but there are many differences between those and what was built by others in the years after.

    Check out what the roof terrace is like on the Marseilles Unite de Habitation for example:

  6. ohmyliver

    ohmyliver poppin' like a cork

    I think aesthetically they are fantastic, but functionally terrible. So in short a superb architect so long as humans don't have to go anywhere near them.

    *eta* I may be conflating him and neo-brutalism tho
  7. teuchter

    teuchter je suis teuchter

    Which ones in particular and in what way?
  8. quimcunx

    quimcunx Too tall.

    From what vague knowledge I thought I had of him and the top couple of pics - not crap.
    From that exhibition - crap. two time.
  9. zenie

    zenie >^^<

    That is only one housing estate, I don't think you can write all tower blocks/high rises off because of one example. :(

    Don't forget the council left it and it's tenants to rot! :eek::D

    I like him, but I love that style of architecture, and I love tower blocks :D
  10. teuchter

    teuchter je suis teuchter

    What was is that you saw in the exhibition that disturbed you so?
  11. teuchter

    teuchter je suis teuchter

    You probably like the Barbican then. That is an example of a fairly successful tower block type development that takes a fair bit of influence from Corbusier. It's not perfect of course and I know it's really easy to get disorientated but aside from that, I think it works pretty well. Partly due to the design and partly because it's taken care of properly by its owners, unlike many council estates.
  12. pogofish

    pogofish Testicle Hairstyle

    I would have to say that I voted 1 & 2 - Visionary & Loon. As is often the way with architects from that period.

    Try reading some of his original works & you will see why.
  13. littlebabyjesus

    littlebabyjesus one of Maxwell's demons

    His smaller buildings are absolutely stunning.

    His ideas for large estates are basically sound, I think, but the problem is that this kind of building is very bad if done on the cheap, which is how examples such as Elephant were done. Also, an estate is not just the tower blocks – it is the amenities, the green spaces, the views. That's why the Barbican works so well, imo – money is spent on its upkeep and the amenities are superb.
  14. danny la rouge

    danny la rouge This is definitely the darkest timeline

    In Scotland, where it rains every day, the International Style is the Wrong Shape.
  15. kyser_soze

    kyser_soze Hawking's Angry Eyebrow

    Glad you made it multi choice, cos I voted for both visionary and loon.

    My only issue with Barbican is the external finish - I simply don't like lumpy concrete! The flats themselves are remarkable (FWIW, the flats attached to the low rise bit of Centrepoint are pretty damn :cool: as well).

    I think my main quibble is that the misapplication and misunderstanding of his work has meant that in the UK (and many other places) much of the egalitarianism of his design philosophy has been lost, and it's made him and residential tower blocks a whipping boy for tedious 'heritage' types.
  16. untethered

    untethered For industry & decency

    Inspired the worst buildings and planning in the history of human settlement.
  17. kyser_soze

    kyser_soze Hawking's Angry Eyebrow

    As if by magic, I make a comment about heritage types and look who pops up :D:p
  18. untethered

    untethered For industry & decency

    You can have Milton Keynes. I'll have Bath.

    That suits me just fine.

    By the way, Modernism is heritage these days.
  19. teuchter

    teuchter je suis teuchter

    Well - it was in the 1950s, but flat roof systems are a lot more reliable these days so this objection is less valid now.
  20. Crispy

    Crispy The following psytrance is baṉned: All

    The barbican works so well because it's full of rich people :p
  21. danny la rouge

    danny la rouge This is definitely the darkest timeline

    If a house is a machine for living in, it needs to function. And no matter how good a flat roof is, it just makes more sense for roofs to be pitched if there's a lot of rain. It's basic physics.
  22. teuchter

    teuchter je suis teuchter

    I made it multiple choice so that I could also vote for both.

    I do. I think it works well in the barbican. Especially where you can see it on the interior. One of the advantages is that streaking and stains are less obvious than on smooth concrete.

    I seem to remember that that bush-hammered finish was created entirely by hand. Very labour-intensive, which is probably why you don't see it that often.


    Although his town planning ideas were a bit bonkers in the first place, it's not just that they've been misunderstood since.
  23. teuchter

    teuchter je suis teuchter

    No, if the system is reliable it doesn't matter. Pitched roofs use more material and create a lot of wasted space. And you can't use them for things like roof terraces or green roofs.

    In any case, "flat" roofs aren't actually flat. They are slightly pitched, at an angle which means the water runs off them at a rate that ensures their reliability.
  24. danny la rouge

    danny la rouge This is definitely the darkest timeline

    Indeed. However, my best friend is a roof felter, and he tells me he'd never have a flat roof. He has 25 years experience of flat roofs in Scotland.
  25. Dillinger4

    Dillinger4 Es ist Zeit

    You mean Courvoisier.
  26. teuchter

    teuchter je suis teuchter

    You miss the point entirely.

    Bath was built a couple of hundred years ago.

    We can't afford to build the same thing now.

    The important discussion is about what we should build now, when we build new. The question being whether we should build things that imitate, cosmetically, things designed for different purposes, or build things that are suitable for what we want them to do now.
  27. danny la rouge

    danny la rouge This is definitely the darkest timeline

    No, he was an Italian tenor.
  28. teuchter

    teuchter je suis teuchter

    Why not?
  29. Crispy

    Crispy The following psytrance is baṉned: All

    Yep. Cast smooth, then battered with hammers, by hand, to expose the aggregate :eek:
    But then a lot of things are extravagent about that place. It's built to last (500 years or something crazy like that, in the spec) and all the fittings and finishes are high quality - all the bronze metalwork alone must have cost a fortune.
  30. danny la rouge

    danny la rouge This is definitely the darkest timeline

    Because he spends his life mending them, and they just don't work.

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