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What are your thoughts about the International Style and Le Corbusier?  More specifically, his Five Points or his famous works (choose one).  How has this style and its characteristics continued to influence and guide architecture today?  


International Style This major architectural style that was developed in the 1920s and 1930s. Ideologically, the International style is a statement on the modern era, yet influential enough to be distinct. It was an architectural movement built on collective ideas moving beyond national borders. As the 20th century progressed, architects were working less in nationalistic teams and more as a global community. Architects around the world worked together to develop a refined form of architecture. They rejected the ornate details of the 19th century. The goal is to strip architecture down to its purest form. There were four factors that led to the International Style: 1. 1. Increasing dissatisfaction with building designs that incorporated a mixture of decorative features from different architectural periods, especially when they had little or no relation to the function of the building; 2. The need to build large numbers of commercial and civic buildings that served a rapidly industrializing society; 3. The successful development of new construction techniques involving the use of steel, reinforced concrete, and glass; 4. A strong desire to create a “modern” style of architecture for “modern man”. This underlined the need for a neutral, functional style, without any of the excessive decorative features. The International style focuses on rectilinear forms, generally divided into segmented planes of concrete, steel and glass. It celebrated the new, technological building materials, turning the focus to these materials and how they are used in the design and building. The resulting style was then formed, reflecting a clear harmony between appearance, function, and technology. There was no effort to conceal the building materials, which made the buildings “honest,” economic, and practical. The motto ”form follows function”, coined by Sullivan, became the guiding belief of the style. It was all about the practical function and the utility. International style architecture developed first in Western Europe in the 1920s. German, Holland, and French Architects envisioned “an architectural style that was less ostentatious, more economical, and a celebration of modern life instead of a revival of the past.” They focused on the newest building materials – steel, concrete, and glass. Now mass produced, more explored and developed led to stronger, more durable products, which in turn led to new ideas. To name a few: • • • Walter Gropius of Germany focused on open interior spaces. J.J.P. Oud of the Netherlands brought new geometric shapes into his designs. Le Corbusier of France cemented the movement by reducing architecture to the basic elements of window, ramp, stair, and column. Eventually in the 1930s, the International style made its way to the US, as did Walter Gropius. American architects started to define the American International style, especially in the American skyscrapers, and institutional and commercial buildings. The phrase “International Style” was first coined in 1932 by Henry-Russell Hitchcock and Philip Johnson for their show “International Exhibition of Modern Architecture” held at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. The aim of the show was to explain and promote what they considered to be an exemplary “modern” style of architecture. Leading Architects Pioneers of the International Style included a group of brilliant and original architects in the 1920s who went on to achieve enormous influence in their field. These figures included: • Walter Gropius (1883-1969) in Germany Founder of the renowned Bauhaus design school in Weimar, Dessau and Berlin. He emigrated to America in 1937. • J.J.P. Oud (1890-1963) in Holland Jacobus Johannes Pieter Oud, co-founder of the De Stijl movement with Theo van Doesburg, helped to bring more rounded and flowing geometric shapes to the movement. • Le Corbusier (1887-1965) in France One of the greatest architects of the 20th century, simplified architecture down to its main functional features: window, ramp, stair and column. He was also especially concerned to maximize the entry of light into a building by replacing load-bearing walls in its facade. • Richard Neutra (1892-1970) The life of no other 20th-century architect so epitomized the term International Style as that of Neutra, who gained worldwide recognition as an advocate of modern design. In the United States, he had a strong influence on architecture, particularly in California. Neutra’s architecture was usually rectangular and straight-lined, unmistakably man-made, yet always sensitive to the site. • Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969) Mies van der Rohe, the third and final head of the Bauhaus school, emigrated to Chicago in 1938, where he became director of architecture at the Armour Institute in Chicago (now the Illinois Institute of Technology, IIT). He also started his own thriving practice as an architect. • Philip Johnson (1906-2005) Johnson has had a profound impact on American architects for more than six decades. He helped introduce modern architecture to America, then built what is perhaps the country’s most famous modern house, the Glass House (1949), collaborated with Mies van der Rohe on the landmark Seagram Building (1954—58) in New York. We’ll see more on Walter Gropius, Mies Van Der Rohe, and Philip Johnson in the coming weeks. Le Corbusier Bio Defining a Language of 20th Century Design and the Role / Identity of the 20th Century Architect Le Corbusier ( 1887-1965) Born Charles-Edouard Jeanneret-Gris in Switzerland (French citizen in 1930), he is considered the most influential architect, environmental design theorist, colorist and urban planner of the 20th Century. His works of architecture, writings, furniture, lectures, artwork and publicity / professional organization “influenced” or impacted nearly every aspect of the built environment. As the first “world architect,” he defined and promoted a language of architecture and design focused on the 20th Century as a vision of a new era, that could be applied universally / internationally for all that would benefit the lives of all classes of people. He redefined the role of the architect as the contemporary rationalist problemsolver (e.g. engineer), a cultural & societal visionary, and as a “functionalist”. His “influence” on the 20th Century is both admired by those who understand his positive impact & liberation in the nature of design, but equally disdained and vilified for the failures of modern urban planning attributed to his theories and propositions from the 20ʼs. Pre-WWII: The Formative Phase Le Cobusier was extremely prodigious and had a creatively productive life. At 13 years old, he learned the art of enameling and engraving watch faces, like his father. His teacher turned mentor, L’Eplattenier taught Le Corbusier art history, drawing and the naturalist aesthetics of art nouveau. This led to continued studies in art and decoration, and eventually architecture. He designed his first house in 1907 when he was 20 years old. This led to some years abroad where he traveled, studied, observed, kept sketchbooks, wrote, and worked for various architects. These trips played a pivotal role in his life. His architectural philosophy had started to develop. “In various settings, he witnessed and absorbed the importance of (1) the contrast between large collective spaces and individual compartmentalized spaces, an observation that formed the basis for his vision of residential buildings and later became vastly influential; (2) classical proportion via Renaissance architecture; and (3) geometric forms and the use of landscape as an architectural tool.” His travels continued 1908 Paris: worked for August Perret, exposed to reinforced concrete construction 1910 Berlin: worked for Peter Behrens, meets Walter Gropius & Mies van der Rohe, exposed to steel frame construction, fluency in German 1912-14: returns to hometown & art school to teach new programs in architecture 1917-23: post WWI, moves to Paris; friendship with artist Amedee Ozenfont; together develop the art / aesthetics publication “LʼEsprit Nouveau”, designs Ozenfont Studio; Opens professional office w/ cousin Pierre Jeanneret, also an architect. 1920: adopts artist name “LeCorbusier” during writing for LʼEsprit Nouveau; 1923: Publishes “Vers une Architecture” (Toward an Architecture). Very influential book. Touches all aspects of 20th C design, emphasis on the machine age, mass production, affordable housing, good design as the solution to social unrest…ends with declaration: “Architecture or Revolution”. Design should promote social good, good health, access to green, sun & air; 1926: Villa Stein; new contemporary home for family of American art collectors in France, 1928: Villa Savoye: Private residence: an exemplar of Le Corbusierʼs “5 points” and expression of a new age of design; with Charlotte Perriand developed the “LC” series of furnishings still produced today; 1930: Swiss Pavilion, Paris; first experiment of high density modern high rise housing; student housing; 1928: CIAM: “Congres Internationaux dʼArchitecture Moderne” (International Congress of Modern Architects); First meeting at the Chateau Sarraz, Switzerland, “La Sarraz Declaration” signed by group of international architects as a “Declaration of Independence” for modern architecture. 1933: 4th meeting of CIAM, on a cruise ship from Marseilles to Athens, developed “The Athens Charter”, manifesto for urban planning, emphasizing the need for rational organization of the city with legislative controls / organized planning. New Spirit of Architecture Le Corbusier & the New Spirit of Architecture: “A great epoch has begun. There exists a new spirit. There exists a mass of work conceived in the new spirit; it is to be met with particularly in industrial production. Architecture is stifled by custom. The “ styles” are a lie. Style is a unity of principle animating all the work of an epoch, the result of a state of mind which has its own special character. Our own epoch is determining, day by day, its own style. Our eyes, unhappily, are unable yet to discern it.” “In every field of industry, new problems have presented themselves and new tools have been created capable of resolving them. If this new fact be set against the past, then you have revolution. In building and construction, mass production had already been begun; in face of new economic needs, mass production units have been created both in mass and in detail, and definite results have been achieved both in detail and mass. If this fact be set against the past, then you have revolution, both in the method employed and in the large scale on which it has been carried out. The history of Architecture unfolds itself slowly across the centuries as a modification of structure and ornament, but in the last fifty years steel and concrete have brought new conquests, which are the index of a greater capacity for construction, and of an architecture in which the old codes have been overturned. If we challenge the past, we shall learn that “styles” no longer exist for us, that a style belonging to our own period has come about; and there has been a revolution.” “Our minds have consciously or unconsciously apprehended these events and new needs have arisen, consciously or unconsciously. The machinery of Society, profoundly out of gear, oscillates between an amelioration, of historical importance, and a catastrophe.” “The primordial instinct of every human being is to assure himself of a shelter. The various classes of workers in society today no longer have dwellings adapted to their needs ; neither the artisan or the intellectual. It is a question of building which is at the root of the social unrest of today; architecture or revolution.” Five Points Le Corbusier used these points as a structural footing for most of his architecture up until the 1950’s, which are apparent in many of his designs. As mentioned, Villa Savoye has the most obvious and evident use of the five points. This image clearly points out the different elements in relation to the the building. As a reminder, the Five Points of Architecture are: • • • • • The Piloti, exposed columns lifting the building off the ground The Free Plan, separation of load bearing columns from walls subdividing space The Free Facade, facade / skin of the building separated from load bearing columns / structural frame The Ribbon Window, long sliding windows The Roof Garden, usable open space replacing the area of ground covered by the building located on the roof For more information or better explanation of the Five Points of Architecture, this is a short video that helps to illustrate them, using a virtual 3d model.

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