CRISIS, What Architecture Needs

I just read a little of what Le Corbusier writes in “Architecture: The Expression of the Materials and Methods of Our Times.  To quickly paraphrase what he says, is throughout the last hundred years there have been so many technological and mechanical advances but, even with all these new resources  architecture has yet to evolve.  He claims that there is so much potential and that there are boundless resources presented to us now to allow this change but, we cannot change while we still cling to the past and the traditions that they represent.  He believes that architecture can only evolve in a time of crisis and soon one will come to force us to use that potential that he knows we have.

This was written almost a hundred years ago from the time which I am reading it today.  Has architecture changed since he wrote this like he believed or do we continue to cling to the past?  I believe that architecture has evolved since then because, we are more knowledgeable now.  Le Corbusier is a phenomenal architect but, he failed to realize that we did not have an unlimited supply of resources such as many others in his time.  Today we understand that our resources will be depleted very soon which is our crisis that we are overcoming by evolving architecture.  There is so much being organized around sustainable design now which is causing us to think about and use new materials and methods to stray from traditions that have placed us in this predicament.  So architecture has evolved but, I don’t think it would have happened if we were not facing a crisis as le Corbusier suggested.

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One comment

  1. kinde050

    After reading Le Corbusier ‘s “Architecture: The Expression of the Materials and Methods of Our Times”, I also wondered whether he would believe there has been a shift in architecture since the article was published. Although I believe Le Corbusier was stressing a movement away from past architectural traditions, I disagree that he was implying we should use resources unwisely. I think his writing was largely arguing for an overall paradigm shift in architectural design that would be more practical and thought-provoking during that time period. I also found that he was critical of new materials and technology, and wasn’t pushing them as a design solution. He states, “…for hundreds of years, your architecture has not evolved. Alone your programs have changed… I repeat: a hundred years of new materials and methods have made no change whatsoever in your architectural viewpoint.”
    I agree that architecture is evolving because of sustainability, and more changes will continue to occur. Hillary Brown’s “Toward Zero-Carbon Buildings” article in the Post Carbon Reader states, “…the green building movement represents a broad urge among builders, designers, and citizens alike to proactively respond to climate change and other environmental issues…” Like Le Corbusier, Brown also believes there needs to be a basic change in thought, or a paradigm shift, for sustainability to truly take root. For example, she discusses how building size in the United States is a huge issue and contributes a large amount to natural resource and energy consumption. No matter how much sustainable technology is utilized, she believes there is no such thing as “10,000 square-foot ‘green’ homes”. Given Le Corbusier’s viewpoint in the article, I think he would probably agree that the solution lies with a widespread behavioral change.

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