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November 26, 2009


Theodore Dalrymple claims Le Corbusier was to architecture what Pol Pot was to social reform, saying "it is no coincidence that he willingly served both Stalin and Vichy."

A terminal inhumanity—what one might almost call “ahumanity”—characterizes Le Corbusier’s thought and writing, notwithstanding his declarations of fraternity with mankind. This manifests itself in several ways, including in his thousands of architectural photos and drawings, in which it is rare indeed that a human figure ever appears, and then always as a kind of distant ant, unfortunately spoiling an otherwise immaculate, Platonic townscape. Thanks to his high-rise buildings, Le Corbusier says, 95 percent of the city surface shall become parkland—and he then shows a picture of a wooded park without a single human figure present. Presumably, the humans will be where they should be, out of sight and out of mind (the architect’s mind, anyway), in their machines for living in (as he so charmingly termed houses), sitting on machines for sitting on (as he defined chairs).

Read the whole thing; Dalrymple's hat tip to the graffiti of uneducated slum denizens is a classic. Also true.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at November 26, 2009 07:04 AM


If Le Corbusier could somehow be resurrected I think he would owe some manner of apology to the long-suffering denizens of Toronto's ghastly tower blocks (Jane and Finch, anyone?). As the Brutalist monstrosities erode into the history books I hope that future architects might learn something from the debacle. But totalitarianism is tempting, isn't it?

Posted by: Ash [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 27, 2009 03:27 AM