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Reading Summary

Architecture or Revolution

EVDA 621: Introduction to Design Theories

Name: Sumer Matharu
Student ID: 10047835
Date: 15 Sep 2016
Architecture or Revolution was an essay that formed a part of Le Corbusiers book,
Toward an Architecture (Vers un Architecture) published in 1923. In this essay, the author
presents his observation on the impact of the gap between the past and present eras on
the state of human society at the time.
At the beginning of the essay, Corbusier writes, but what would be useful would be to
compare its intellectual, social, economic, and industrial activity not only with the period
prior to the start of the nineteenth century, but with the history of civilization in
general.[pg.293] He implies the near sighted reach of the current historical perspective
of the human mind and pushes us to capture the essence of humanity that seems to have
been lost in translation during the flash technological growth. During this growth, many
new tools were made available to keep up with the inventions taking place. These tools
created a new class of working people.[pg.298] Although the explosive growth of
technology led to the creation of this new class, the monetary appreciation of the same
was yet to catch up, synonymous with family values that had also yet to catch up. Le
Corbusier writes, The human beast remains breathless and panting before this tool that
he cannot get a grip on; progress seems as hateful to him as it is laudable; all is confusion
in his mind; he feels enslaved to a forcibly imposed order of things and has no sense of
liberation, of relief, of improvement.[pg.293] The author states here that humanity needs
to pause for a moment, and ensure that the home or family life for humans also takes on
a new direction, a new approach, more suited to the expectations of today, emphasizing
on the benefit of everything that has changed thus far, because it has changed for the
The importance of family life is paramount to the welfare of society. According to Le
Corbusier, Now when things work out well for the family, the society is stable and likely
to last[pg.294] The very fact that humans lived and did everything keeping in mind their
family values, translates very well to the higher purpose of living within large societies
where if families prosper, societies also prosper. This is an ideal scenario as noted by the
author. In reality, due to fast industrialization, mass manufacturing, designated positions
for everything and hard specializations for individuals, this ideal scenario is palpable at
best.[pg.295] The author mentions, The workshop spirit no longer exists, but a more
collective spirit certainly does.[pg.296] However, this collective spirit seems to be
prevalent in the workplace rather than society.
In conclusion, Le Corbusier states that Architecture does not have to be a
revolution.[pg.307] All the pieces are already there. We simply have to ensure that we
harmoniously place new industrialization and progress hand in hand with family and home
values that makes us who we are as human beings.


Le Corbusier, Architecture or Revolution, in Toward and Architecture (Vers un

Architecture), Frances Lincoln, 2007, pp. 293-307