Le Corbusier’s Towards a New Architecture suggests architects all over the world in the 20th century to take actions. His architecture is broken down into three parts, Mass, Surface, and Plan which is the main elements. He claims that mass is the simple, creative forms of geometry that engineers try to figure out but instead architects have abstained from using it. The surface is the face of mass where architects are afraid to use whereas the engineers used it to reflect the shape of the building Lastly, the plan is the heart of the building as it does not only generate the elevations but ensure the spatial experiences itself.
Figure 1 – Charles-Edouard Jeanneret also known as Le Corbusier
He wrote “Mass and surface are elements by which architecture manifests itself. Mass and surface are determined by the plan. The plan is the generator” (Le Corbusier and Etchells, pp26).
The plan carries the very essence of sensation and This quotation makes it clear about Le Corbusier think about the plan.
This part started by defining the title, “The Engineer’s Aesthetic and Architecture – two things that march together and follow one from the other one at its full height, the other in an unhappy state of retrogression.” (Le Corbusier and Etchells, pp1). Le Corbusier refers to this quote that the engineer’s aesthetic has increased compared to the position of architecture it has slow down. What he meant is that architecture has been lost through the past as the engineers started to adopt new technologies and build purposely functional structures.
As modernism evolved, Le Corbusier wants to begin a revolution eschewing trends for ergonomics, but he does not appreciate the architectural “styles” (Le Corbusier and Etchells, pp25). To be able to adapt to modern problems and find modern solutions, abandoning trends is important as the “styles” should be independent of actual utility. We still live in our old homes and the only reason behind it is that we are used to them, but we still strived unreasonably against their design and our needs. He views his time living in the modern age as one with the new problem that needs to be solved, is central to his thesis. The problem is compared to architects, engineers explore the economic problems, mathematics, needs, ergonomics and build with these in mind while architects build the style which is more popular. Architects must contemplate the needs instead of always adapting to the aesthetic theme du jour. And clients who always in demand of trending style instead of applying what would be better for their institution are to be blamed.
Le Corbusier feels that the architecture we need, cannot be created by engineers although they have successfully considered out how to build practically.
To create Architectural beauty, true architects are needed and to do so by using “elements which are capable of affecting our senses, and of rewarding the desire of our eyes, and should dispose them in such a way that the sight of them affects us immediately” (Le Corbusier and Etchells, pp16).
Architecture’s aesthetic can be ideal through competition and creative innovation but to be able to do so, we must standardize it to respect to its function so as we will be able to produce a huge amount of it. A good example is the “Parthenon” (2), the Greek temples were standardized from a basic function perspective and were gradually improved to reach the aesthetic perfection.
Figure 2 – The parthenon
“It is a fight in order to win you must do better than your rival in every minute point, in the run of the whole thing and in all the details. Thus, we get the study of minute points pushed to limits. A standard is necessary in order in human effort,” (Le Corbusier and Etchells, pp134-135).
The discussion that I found interesting is about mass production homes, where most of the homes today are mass-produced. Since the population growth has been gradually increased, homes are just built to match it and they are built shapely similarly. What I learned from Le Corbusier is that the architect and the engineer should take into consideration how they experience living inside of it and not only building homes everywhere. As the people who will live in those houses want to create and be inspired by the homes they will live in.
The development of cars has been gradually expanding since, and it can be seen as reflecting the same process as the “Parthenon”, but it is not identical to cars as the manufacturing process is still young. However, the standard must be carefully constructed so as the improvements are not done for anything.
“The establishment of a standard involves exhausting every practical and reasonable possibility, and extracting from them a recognized type conformable to its function,” (Le Corbusier and Etchells, pp137).
In Fact, that while developing the improvements, the needs and ergonomics should be built so as it truly represents its functional model, but gradually after, its attractive appearance that most of the clients care such as the form or color will gradually come slowly after.
The improvement of cars in their design has been vastly improved over time and compared to architecture, they continue to adapt to their modern needs, what Le Corbusier wants to say that, he feels that people are not accomplishing this selection to architecture. Architecture, such as the house, street, a city, must be reduced to the idea of emulating its essential functions. Compare to the development of a chariot to a car, it’s function has never been changed which is being a machine that is able to move people.
Architects must not always follow the trend of the past and should update their work to these criteria. If the clients decline what will fits to their needs and demand that will probably solve the new problems, then the architect’s work will not be successful. Simultaneously, the beauty or creativity also comes from the artist which exhibits beauty and engineers must not only solve problems.