Le Corbusier: universal artist or technocrat?

Activity: Other activity typesPublic engagement and outreach - public lecture/debate/seminar


The Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier (1887 –1965) is strongly associated with post-war mass housing projects; his name is often used as shorthand for their failings. He was arguably the most talented architect of the twentieth century and but he is popularly known for his association with the technocrat aspects of modern planning. Architecture lecturer, Penny Lewis will ‘visit’ two of Le Corbusier’s most influential buildings the Villa Roche in Paris (1923) and the Unité d’habitation in Marseille (1952) to compare his innovative pre-war and expressive post-war work. The talk will explore the architects’ ambition to express the universal qualities of architecture and the modernist impulse to engage with engineering and new technology.

The common assessment of Le Corbusier’s work is that he was a great architect but a poor (or even Fascist) urbanist. Perhaps now that we have some distance on the post-war period we can begin to appreciate his work, aesthetic and technocratic, as a whole. Corbusier’s work was produced in that rare moment when the emancipatory drive of mass society (and the technocratic impulse to contain that drive) provided space for serious innovation. The lecture will focus on his approach to form, materials and proportion alongside his ambitious urban propositions.
Period3 Mar 2021
Event titleThe Academy of Ideas Arts & Society Forum
Event typeOther
LocationOnline EventShow on map