I’m sorry, Le Corbusier: an open letter

Finally all done with my studies for now (but still unwilling to fight the habit of not trying too hard at writing these. Sorry! But I’ve written a lot recently), I feel the need to get back into things with an apology for my academic rudeness throughout this semester.

Sorry Le Corbusier, I didn’t mean any of what I’ve said/wrote for the last 15 weeks. Can we please move past this?

I’m sorry that you kind of serve as a perfect example of everything that went wrong with Modernist architecture, planning and design in the 20th Century, to the point where people turn away from any white-painted concrete structure with the barest hint of universal-ly design anywhere. Pull your hat down further, avoid eye contact at all costs. By the latter half of the 20th Century, was it your fault that your style had become so popular (perhaps popular isn’t the right word though) that it did become an international language used appropriately and inappropriately to the point where its shortcomings became more and more apparent?

The Contemporary City for Three Million People, intended to act as an example of a city that could be repeated across the world, why would anyone want to live in the exact same city everywhere, devoid of any unique cultural signifiers upon which to develop any kind of civic identity? People are not machines. They do not want to live in a city designed to rigidly enforce, maximise and optimise efficiency.

Chandigarh, your chance at a whole new capital city, reduced to concrete geometry that served as a death knell for Modernist planning and design. The pinnacle of an authoritarian planner doggedly pursuing their own vision and the worst part being that it is considered a failure. No redemption, no cultural relevance, only the concrete capital reflecting harsh summer sun, cooking its residents.

The international language, why does language need to be universal? Isn’t architecture or cities or anything, beautiful because they are all different and unique? Who wants to create a standard style to be spewed out exactly the same across the world? Not me my friend, not me…

I’m sorry, Le Corbusier, for analysing and critiquing your life’s work in multiple essays, presentations and discussions.

I’m sorry, Le Corbusier, you are the low-hanging fruit of examples for poorly received Modernism, too difficult for this overworked, overwrought Eve to resist.

I’m sorry, Le Corbusier…

I’m sorry…

I’m sorry because I actually really love all your work. The Contemporary City for Three Million People? Who WOULDN’T want to live in a city where in the centre all the skyscrapers have airports on top of them? Universal language? I find something genuinely timeless about this style of Modernism. Seeing some of those crisp, white designs, Villa Savoye or Weissenhof-Siedlung House 14 and 15, Oooooo, so clean, they transcend the time they were built and still look amazing today. Chandigarh?…well I’m sure there is something great about you too. Concrete! That’s it, lots of concrete. That brutalist application of concrete without which we may never have had the artworks of Tadao Ando (perhaps a long bow to draw, I should probably research this wild claim, but I mean, they both love concrete).

Le Corbusier, you beautiful badger (that’s what “Le Corbusier” is supposed to mean, right? I’m not just being a butt-hole, am I?).

Don’t ever change. Don’t ever let them change you.

So, yeah, sorry for slamming you all semester.

PS: My dearest Le Corbusier…Charles… what actually is an open letter?


Sources:

MY BRAIN!

Special thanks to Miss Muesli for my new shirt, which I though how better to show off than in black and white and obscured behind a Le Corbusier!

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