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June 17, 2005

Comments

Maurice

i figure the crack i am invited to have
should appear on my blog rather than in your comments
and so it shall

Ciarán

Interesting review Frank. I am a little amused, though, to see you name Hayek on one level (I have to say, I just don't find Hayek's histrionics as entertaining as Nozick's admittedly flawed Anarchy, State and Utopia) and then name Le Corbusier on another. How can an admirer of libertarianism also be an admirer of modernist architecture? How can you approve of the sort of beautiful-from-the-air-but-inhuman-on-the-ground structures that LC designed? James Scott's Seeing Like a State has a wonderful, affectionate but damning review of the designs of Le Corbusier and others.

Frank McGahon

How can an admirer of libertarianism also be an admirer of modernist architecture?

I don't see the contradiction unless you consider modernist architecture and public housing projects coterminous.

How can you approve of the sort of beautiful-from-the-air-but-inhuman-on-the-ground structures that LC designed?

Because Le Corbusier's "structures" tend to be beautiful/human on-the-ground too. It is certainly true that Corb, through writings and projects had a massive influence on the architects and planners behind assorted public housing schemes and that thses schemes tend to be pretty awful, but the housing schemes he designed himself tended not to be awful, for example the Unité de Habitation in Marseilles. Plus he designed and built an awful lot more than just housing blocks. The chapel at Ronchamp and the Villa Savoye would be among his most celebrated buildings, but there are plenty more smaller buildings, the villas La Roche-Jeanneret, Dr Currutchet's house in Argentina, the Sarabhai house in Ahmedabad

Frank McGahon

Ciarán, you might be interested in a post I wrote on Samizdata a while back: Why so many left-wing architects?

Yog-Sothoth

Can't I do the book theme? I'll pass it on, I promise.

Ciarán

Sorry Frank - I've been distracted all week and didn't get back here. I'll take a look at the Samizdata post now. But I should say that I wasn't conflating Le Corbusier with public housing, which would be pretty dense of me. I was alluding more to Le Corbusier's vision for urban planning. Listen, if I get a moment today or on Monday I'll scan the chapter on the 'high modernist city' from Scott's Seeing Like a State and mail it to you. I think you might enjoy it.

Frank McGahon

Well put it this way, I admire Le Corbusier the architect more so than Le Corbusier the urban planner. Perhaps he is associated more closely with urban planning by "lay people" but he was an architect first and foremost. Even though his seemed-like-a-good-idea-at-the-time notion about slum clearance and replacement by freestanding buildings in parkland was very influential, I think it's fair to say that the only major urban planning scheme he ever carried out was Chandigargh in India.

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