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CORB IN ALGIERS



I recently discovered that Le Corbusier travelled to the Algiers to present planning ideas for a new city in 1931. Despite his many rejections, Corb’s proposals exhibited a highly poetic and plastic side to his work contrasting his industrial work.




Was this side to Corbusier always in him? Was this side the same side that unleashed the ineffable spaces of the 1954 Notre Dame du Haut in Ronchamp, France?



Maybe the answer is that Le Corbusier was exceptional at adapting to the environmental, socio-political, and technological changes throughout his life. 

THE RONCHAMP REVELATION


My first entry left off with a quote of Stella’s foreshadowing of a society devoid of religion due to an industrialized future. How true was his prediction now that we are living a future close to a century past Stella’s era?

A prime example of modern architecture that would repudiate Stella’s claim is Le Corbusier’s Notre Dame Du Haut in Ronchamp, France. I wrote about my recognition of a pivotal moment in Le Corbusier’s work and I believe it has a direct connection to Stella’s predictions. Corb’s disillusionment with industrialization changed his stance on architecture in which he became more interested in the poetry and meaning of that a space can convey through the modulation of light and the undulation of space.  




The deceivingly non-loading bearing walls constantly changed in thickness, height, and shape. The massive boat-like roof held up by unnoticeable columns hidden within the confines of walls. Funneling openings are carved out creating pockets of subtle illumination. The entire chapel sits atop a sloping hill of the Jura Mountains with a sense of permanence in ground condition, truly achieving “ineffable space.”



Here is where modernism found a spot in spirituality. Eventually, Corb put “the machine” aside. This building contained no standardization, mass-production, nor efficiency. On this isolated plot of land in France stands an emblem to modernism and religion.  


LE CORBUSIER’S PIVOTAL MOMENT


From my understanding of Modernism thus far, I have recognized a pivotal movement of Modernist ideals rooted in the theoretical transitions of the most influential Architect of the twentieth century: Le Corbusier. 



Initially Corb sought after, in response to the devastation of the World Wars, efficiency in the production of a machine for living similar to the success of the perfected machine for transportation. With the structural revolution of the DOM-INO system achieving free-plan and free-façade and the clear-cut ideals set forth in his “5 points of architecture”, Le Corbusier made some considerable progress. 



However, his experiences with Unite d’Habitation had forced him to come to a realization that industrial technologies and building methods were not sophisticated enough to achieve the precision and accuracy required for prefabrication and mass production of his highly sought after plug-in units. 

Unite d’Habitation - Le Corbusier 1947


Furthermore, French culture was not harmonious with commercial streets raised of the ground plane in jutted into the middle of a building. Here, Le Corbusier became disillusioned with building efficiency and the integration of industrialization for mass production of living machines. His proposals to CIAM in “La Sarraz Declaration” were forgotten and a pivotal moment in modernism thinking was marked.

CIAM at the La Sarraz Declaration