Towards a New Architecture

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Dover Publications, 1931 - Architecture - 289 pages
55 Reviews

For the Swiss-born architect and city planner Le Corbusier (Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, 1887–1965), architecture constituted a noble art, an exalted calling in which the architect combined plastic invention, intellectual speculation, and higher mathematics to go beyond mere utilitarian needs, beyond "style," to achieve a pure creation of the spirit which established "emotional relationships by means of raw materials."
The first major exposition of his ideas appeared in Vers une Architecture (1923), a compilation of articles originally written by Le Corbusier for his own avant-garde magazine, L'Esprit Nouveau. The present volume is an unabridged English translation of the 13th French edition of that historic manifesto, in which Le Corbusier expounded his technical and aesthetic theories, views on industry, economics, relation of form to function, the "mass-production spirit," and much else. A principal prophet of the "modern" movement in architecture, and a near-legendary figure of the "International School," he designed some of the twentieth century's most memorable buildings: Chapel at Ronchamp; Swiss dormitory at the Cité Universitaire, Paris; Unité d'Habitation, Marseilles; and many more.
Le Corbusier brought great passion and intelligence to these essays, which present his ideas in a concise, pithy style, studded with epigrammatic, often provocative, observations: "American engineers overwhelm with their calculations our expiring architecture." "Architecture is stifled by custom. It is the only profession in which progress is not considered necessary." "A cathedral is not very beautiful . . ." and "Rome is the damnation of the half-educated. To send architectural students to Rome is to cripple them for life."
Profusely illustrated with over 200 line drawings and photographs of his own works and other structures he considered important, Towards a New Architecture is indispensable reading for architects, city planners, and cultural historians―but will intrigue anyone fascinated by the wide-ranging ideas, unvarnished opinions, and innovative theories of one of this century's master builders.

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User Review  - Melissa Frost - Goodreads

Corb in his most exuberant mood of appropriation. Also at his most assholish if you really read it right. There is a LANGUAGE of avant-gardism but this is total capitalist reformism at it's most ... Read full review

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About the author (1931)

Le Corbusier is considered by many to be the leading architect of modern architecture. Born of Swiss parentage near Geneva, but a lifelong Parisian by choice, he started his practice in 1922. In 1923 he published his startling manifesto of what he called "the aesthetics of modern life," Vers une architecture (Towards a New Architecture). Le Corbusier worked first at simplifying and liberating house design through the revolutionary use of new materials---particularly, reinforced concrete---and new technical ideas for mass production, which he applied in the so-called Dom-Ino and the Citrohan House. In his widely influential book La Ville Radieuse (The Radiant City) (1935), he laid down his urban planning ideas:a city of high-rise buildings set among trees and grass. His designs for large building groups proved to be as influential as his domestic designs had been. These include the famous housing project in Marseilles (the Unite d'Habitation), his League of Nations project in Geneva (unexecuted), and, toward the end of his life, the startling designs for the capital city of Punjab, Chandigarh. He also participated---controversially---in the designs for the U.N. headquarters in New York. In his last years, Le Corbusier turned away from the geometry and pure logic of his first designs and adopted sculptural and dramatic forms, as in Chandigarh. The almost mystical complexities of Le Corbusier's Pilgrim Church of Ronchamps in the French Jura opened another chapter in the history of twentieth-century architecture.

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