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History of Architecture (AP313) | Essay | 2014

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LE CORBUSIER AND LEsprit Nouveau
Term Paper for History of Architecture (AP131)

Pankaj kumar
Roll Number: 00216901611
Sushant School of Art and Architecture


ABSTRACT
Early 20th century was known for its transition where people were forced to view environment in
different way under the pressure of machines and cities. This transition was needed and was an
automatic response to the industry and society. The transition lead people open their minds for new
idea known as modernism. Modernism gave new approach, perception and ideas.
Everyone started to see things in a different way, something new .soon it spread like a virus and can
be observed in all types of field from small artwork to big buildings from crafts to graphics.
Charles Edouard Jeanneret, world know him as Le Corbusier. He was one of the important figures
who played an important role in the history as modernists. Le Corbusier was the most influential and
celebrated architect of 20th century. He was born in 1887 in Switzerland. As a student he had
decided that he wanted to become a painter but his teacher saw something different in him insisted to
become an architect. He decided to become an architect during his travel in Europe and after that he
designed lots of influenced architecture which affected to the society and the culture, until 1956.His
main idea was about standards and perfection. His book eyes that do not see III: automobiles,
towards a new architecture and many other talks about standardization and further process in desire
for perfection.
He argued about the relationship between the designing process for automobiles and standardization
in architecture. According to him there should be a set standards for designing and further work needs
to be done so as to come as close as to perfection. Just like Standards that are set in automobiles like
tires, windows, doors, etc. His favorite building was the ancient Greek temple Parthenon. It was
designed by Phidias in Acropolis in 447 B.C. He considered Parthenon as standardization in
Architecture due to its classical architectural elements- pediment, mitoses, columns, ideal in its beauty,
structure and proportions.
C. E Jeanneret travelled to many places but the decision to move to Paris was one of the important
ones. Which came as a sudden thought as a result of a performance which he had seen at Vienna .That
was called Puccinis La Boheme, the representation of the gay life of Paris. He moved to Paris in 1917,
but for a fresher it was too early to expect for any good signs as it was war time for France.
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Nevertheless consulting architect was the decent step to be considered although continued for a long
time, which was run by his friend Max Dubuis. Opportunity was not too far either; his first design came
for SABA- Societe D Application Du Beton. His first project in France was a reinforced concrete water
tower near Bordeaux. Later he joined S.E.I.E Soceted etudes industrielles et techniques where he
was introduced to problems of industrial production and management. They ran a small brick factory
which showed very less rise in terms of success rate and in addition to that, incidents where bricks were
being damaged before reaching to the site. All being reason for his insufficient income but from inside
that painter was craving to come outside and was only hope.
In May 1918, Jeanneret met Amedee Ozenfant who was French cubist, painter and writer. By the
time they met Ozenfant was already had established as painter and critic in Paris. Ozenfant
encouraged Jeanneret to paint again. Being a painter Ozenfant must have realized some connection
due to which they started to share common interests. Jeanneret who was from beginning had Olympian
belief in mechanics and humanism shared it with Ozenfant which in turn gave another common idea as
he was to study the elegant motor magazine Omnia. In June 1918, Jeanneret wrote to Ozenfant: in
my confusion I try to evoke your tranquil, sensitive, clear will. I feel that I am at the threshold of
discoveries, while you are concerned with their realization (stanislaus van moos, le corbusier, 1979, p.
48). Ozenfant was competing for the exhibition which was to be held at Galeric Thomas in the autumn
of 1918.He joined hands with Jeanneret for this catalogue for the exhibition although most of the text
was already finished. This joint venture proved its worth and manifesto was a huge success. And later
gave the title Apres Le cubisme also known as after cubism or better, beyond cubism. Its main
purpose was to establish a tradition within the Avant grade and suggesting a critical attitude toward
that leading movement in modern French art (stanislaus van moos, le corbusier, 1979, p. 48).
As year passed by the conditions were such that the authors of Apres Le cubism felt the need for some
lime light over contemporary culture and a medium to express their views on art and modern life. In
1919, Fernand Divoire, a literary critic writing for the LIntransigeant, had met the two artists and
mentioned the poet Paul Dermee and his project to launch a new literary magazine (stanislaus van
moos, le corbusier, 1979, p. 55).With the combining efforts LEsprit Nouveau came into existence. The
tile itself defines a new creation which meant The New Spirit. The inspiration for magazines name had
come from Guillaume Apollinaire. On 26 November 1917, Apollinaire had delivered a lecture bearing
this title at the Theatre Du Vieux colombier (stanislaus van moos, le corbusier, 1979, p. 55).As this
was not just an art magazine, its outlook was seemed beyond design and visual arts. It was being
compared to the Werkbund-Jahrbuch which was published in Germany in the previous decade as a
means of awakening the public to need for a new everyday culture appropriate to the machine age
(stanislaus van moos, le corbusier, 1979, p. 55).LEsprit Nouveau functioned as a marketing agent for
New life style Inc. with Le Corbusier as its designer-in-chief (stanislaus van moos, le corbusier, 1979,
p. 55).In October 1920, L Esprit Nouveau magazines first issue was appeared with the title page
proclaiming ,LEsprit Nouveau is the first magazine in the world truly dedicated to living aesthetics
(stanislaus van moos, le corbusier, 1979).LEsprit Nouveau emerged more than just a magazine which
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included not only paintings but political, literature, psychology, theatre, films, etc. Their engagements
were international and not just local which in turn resulted in wider readership. The projects which were
included really couldnt be understood as a product of desire for impersonating pure forms. They
had this simple tactics to collate the essays on paintings, architecture, urbanism and decorative arts and
publish in a book form.
The magazine issued six articles which confirmed their intentions for voicing their view over art and
modernity- Andre Salmon on Picasso , a portion of the De Stije manifesto Theo Van Doesburg, a
commentary on Apollinaires calligrammes by Louis Aragon, an article entitled ornament and
verbrechen by Adolf Loos. Then first issue also presented the painting by neoimpressionist George
Seurat .It was assumed that the purist were clear about their ambition of defeating Cubism. Their aim
was clear about bringing Avant-Grade art into reconsideration and progress in technological field but
without compromising the French tradition in it.
Role of LEsprit Nouveau was not limited to just France but outside as well. In the wake of renewing and
regenerating Europeans began to look into American culture. During the teens, twenties and early
thirties, the European Avant -Grade was drawn to America to learn from its technology, its institutions
and its culture. During this time Europeans considered America to be a model culture for their myth of
modernity. Finally Le Corbusier was getting ready to introduce himself to the America. Le Corbusier
formulated his preconceptions about America within a culture of Americanisme, a process of
Americanization in which Europeans looked abroad for cultural renewal.
On the other hand American saw Le Corbusier theory in his aspects of work: city planning and early
villa.
The year between 1920 and 1925 when Le Corbusier and Ozenfant edited and wrote for L'Esprit
Nouveau which really described his works , but most Americans had little knowledge of or access to
the journal because few individuals or institutions subscribed which was limiting them to very few
audience.
Most Americans, however , were introduced to Le Corbusier through accounts of his Pavillion De L'Esprit
Nouveau at the exposition Internationale Des Arts Decoratifs Et Industriels Modernes held in Paris in
1925 and 1926.
Now the question was how Pavillion De L'Esprit Nouveau came into picture in the middle of all this. This
dated back during Exposition Internationale Des Arts Decoratifs. Its an exhibition organized by the
French ministry of industry and commerce. Its main purpose is to create a platform for French art and
crafts.
And during these hours, the editors of LEsprit Nouveau were asked to build an architecture house. So,
a standard dwelling was presented as Pavillion De L'Esprit Nouveau, but the concept and the
equipment it had were explicitly protesting against the idea of handicrafts and interior decoration. The
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idea was about architecture being not just about a city but also about the smallest household item. But
Le Corbusier had something different in his mind he reaffirm on industry being enough capable of to
supply entire household with mass-produced furniture.
The Esprit Nouveau Pavilion is a two-part building, projected by Le Corbusier to display his
proposal for a new urbanism in European cities. The building is composed by a base cell, i.e. a
prototype of urban home unit, to be replicated within the modular project of a new city, and a
Diorama, a space devoted to the illustration of innovative theories for a better quality of
urban life.

The two components of the building were originally two separate projects in 1922, that
Le Corbusier did merge and integrate in 1925 to create a temporary Pavilion for the
International Exhibition of Decorative Arts, which was held in Paris in the park near Grand Palais.
The Diorama was originally conceived to conveniently display a synthesis of the Atelier Le
Corbusiers best projects between 1920 and 1925, together with two Le Corbusiers visionary
concepts on urban policies renewal: the Three million inhabitants city and the Plan Voisin de
Paris.
Concepts being sketched on the wall of pavilion and can be seen. The Le Corbusiers proposal for
a new City became soon the most innovative idea for the future of the European urban areas.
The Le Corbusiers innovative proposals were welcomed at first as apparently unrealistic. The
key-principle was that new urban architecture wouldnt be based anymore only on wealthy
middle-class requirements, but would follow and support public decision makers to create a
new wealth for all in urban areas. Only this change in cultural approaches to cities life would
lead to a real renewal and better quality standards for urban areas.
When the International Exhibition of Decorative Arts was closed, all the Pavilions (Le Corbusiers
for Paris, together with Tony Garniers for Lyon, Melnikov for URSS e Hoffmann for Austria)
were dismissed; lately, Le Corbusier et Jeanneret did rebuild their Pavilion in the Pariss
neighborhood, recycling the same materials used the first time, trying to evolve their dream,
and adapting their Diorama.
Le Corbusier and Jeanneret stress on the need for a new urban policy caused a great impression
on public opinion. The hypothesis of a modern mass-produced house would be a guarantee of
high quality standards in housing, accessible to all social categories, and governed by public
sector. The base cell would allow people to live in their house without conceptual restrictions
concerning furnishing and daily management.

In Bologna, the 1977 was a year of great and fruitful debate on urbanism and urban policies;
therefore it was easy for an Initiative Group, composed by former Le Corbusiers pupils, making a
proposal for the rebuilding of the Esprit Nouveau Pavilion. The Le Corbusiers Foundation was actively
involved and gave his support to this idea: the architects Oubreriee Aujame took care of technical
aspects, while Giuliano Gresleri followed the artistic ones. Part of the 1925 studies and original
furnishing details were lost during the years, so they were forced to start reconstruction works from
original picks of the 25 building details. Furthermore, some Le Corbusiers building which date back to
1925: Villa La Roche, Pessac, Villa Cook were studied, to find out what the key principles of Le
Corbusiers thought could be considered as invariants, and the rebuilding of EN Pavilion followed these
guidelines.
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Bibliography

Bacon, M., 2003. Le Corbusier in America: Travels in the Land of the Timid. s.l.:MIT Press.
Carlos.Eliel, F. D. g., 2001. L'Esprit nouveau: Purism in Paris, 1918-1925. s.l.:Los Angeles County
Museum of Art in association with Harry N. Abrams.
stanislaus van moos, le corbusier, 1979. Le Corbusier, elements of a synthesis. s.l.:MIT Press, 1979.



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