The Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier (1887 –1965) is strongly associated with post-war mass housing projects; his name is often used as shorthand for their failings. He was arguably the most talented architect of the twentieth century and but he is popularly known for his association with the technocrat aspects of modern planning. Architecture lecturer, Penny Lewis will ‘visit’ two of Le Corbusier’s most influential buildings the Villa Roche in Paris (1923) and the Unité d’habitation in Marseille (1952) to compare his innovative pre-war and expressive post-war work. The talk will explore the architects’ ambition to express the universal qualities of architecture and the modernist impulse to engage with engineering and new technology.
The common assessment of Le Corbusier’s work is that he was a great architect but a poor (or even Fascist) urbanist. Perhaps now that we have some distance on the post-war period we can begin to appreciate his work, aesthetic and technocratic, as a whole. Corbusier’s work was produced in that rare moment when the emancipatory drive of mass society (and the technocratic impulse to contain that drive) provided space for serious innovation. The lecture will focus on his approach to form, materials and proportion alongside his ambitious urban propositions.
Penny Lewis is a lecturer in architecture and urban planning. She leads the joint architecture programme at the University of Dundee and the University of Wuhan in China. She studied architecture before she became an architectural journalist, writing for magazine, newspapers and editing Prospect, the Scottish architectural magazine, before becoming a lecturer and academic.