Posts Tagged ‘Le Corbusier


Sketching Structure

Rogers PA Tech DonI thought Don’s post on the PAT building by Rogers was a wonderful example of travel summary AND an example of how to look at a building with respect to structure and space, as I am asking you to do for the summer building analysis.  Don’s post included a few well-chosen photos: an overview, two different sides, and an attempt to get the structure.  He did a bit of research, got the date, some of the facts about the building, and wrote up an informative post. His sketch was key: it pulled the structure out of the building to make it clear: the central towers holding up the cantilevered arms with cables, which in Murcutt LOW bturn hold up the roof.

As you visit architecture this summer, work on these kinds of sketches: fewer “views” or exciting perspectives, more “analysis” drawings, things you can’t fully see, but think you understand about the building (sections and plans are almost by definition of this kind, a drawing you can’t actually see… one of the reasons they are so valuable to architects).

Calatrava com-1-32Structure and space are particularly interesting to try and sketch, to be sure they are “spatial” as Gerard would say. Here just a few random examples:

SANTIAGO CALATRAVA is a wonderful sketch-artist, here his own rendering for the structure and spatial flow of a skyscraper, based on his understanding of a spine-ribcage in torsion.

Piano Beyeler 6aRENZO PIANO also does lots of sketches to design and present his work, particularly the relationship of structure, space and light. They can be quite “crude”, but are always very insightful. Here for the Beyeler Museum in Basel.

PETER ZUMTHOR’s buildings are powerful statements with minimal means, an approach even reflected in his sketches.  Here sketches for the Zumthor Kunsthaus 1Bregenz Museum, a floor plan with light flooding in, and a simple section.

CORB, KAHN, and MIES all sketched a great deal by hand as part of their design process, and these sketches always provide invaluable insights into the thoughts and intent of the architect as they struggled to realize an idea.  It pays to try and find these sketches of your buildings (all three architects have a multi-volume series of books published that attempts to include a huge number of sketches for each building).


Find Your Architect

Via VisualComplexity (click on the image to zoom)

This is a graphical representation of the forces of modernity. People dictate the flows and in turn affect others. Names of influential modern designers/architects of the 20th century, such as Gerrit Rietveld, Norman Foster and Alvaro Siza, serve as the poles in which forces (lines) radiate from. This in turn develops into a ripple effect. They act as philosophical and physical forces of influence.

Also, via Archidose (hint: start at the top for Lou, Mies, and Corbu, but you can find them elsewhere, too)

We see the same timeline (horizontal) interacting with formal concerns (vertical, from logical on the top to unself-conscious on the bottom) […]


Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier, Louis Khan in Downloadable Form.

I was looking on the internet to see if I could find any 3-D models or drawings of the assignment’s architecture on the internet. I found ten of the buildings for the summer assignment on a website called in photograph, drawing, and model form. It was my first hit on google when I searched “maisons jaoul model”.

Despite how quick the search is, books will most likely be more fruitful because of the sketched out diagrams, thoughts of the architect, and in depth analysis of space or concept.

Barcelona Pavilion
Farnsworth House
Lake Shore Drive Apartments
New National Gallery

Le Corbusier:
Villa Stein
La Tourette
Maisons Jaoul

Louis Khan:
Trenton Bath House
Richard’s Medical Center
Exeter Library


Building Study: Space + Structure: Summer 2009

48-200 Building Study Summer 09 1CMU Students:  As most of you know, I have sent out via email the annual summer building study assignment.   It’s also posted on the “2nd Year Studio Docs” page above.   It’s due first day of classes, Mon. Aug. 24, 2009, in the “Studio Documentation” folder on the server and in hard copy.  Results will be better and more profound it you start now, and work iteratively, over time.

Although you should all create your own insights and drawings about these buildings, perhaps the blog can be a good way to share resources, references, and ideas about the buildings, especially for those without access to a good library.  Sharing in, and helping create, a rich and wide “discourse” on architecture is key to becoming an architect.

Email me with questions.  Kai


What I recently learned about the Villa Savoye

So, yes Talia, I am finally blogging…

Anyways, so this summer I read Towards a New Architecture like a good architecture student, and it was interesting.  Personally I believe I would have to read it multiple times in order to understand it.  Le Corbusier seems to declare his thoughts without much detail as to what he is getting at (might be a language translation thing), and I also am not familiar with the time period so references go over my head.  From the gist that I did understand, I believe that he is too closed minded in what he proposes.  He proclaims that the “modern man wants a monk’s cell, well lit and heated, with a corner from which he can look at the stars” and while thats good for some people I believe that there are many different people with very different wants.  Now please feel free to dispute my findings because, like I said, I am no where an expert on the book or the man, I just wanted to let you know my beginning feelings.

Now the second book I began this summer and am going to probably finish tonight is The Architecture of Happiness by Alain de Botton.  This book I found very clear and easy for me to understand.  It is very interesting because the author melds human psychology with architecture.  I highly suggest this book.  But first something interesting and possibly funny that appeared in the book.

Yes it does have to do with our dear friend the Villa Savoye or as le corbusier calls it “a machine for living”

Did you know… ?

“One week after the (Savoye’s) moved in, the roof sprang a leak over Roger’s bedroom, letting in so much water that the boy contracted a chest infection, which turned into pneumonia, which  eventually required him to spend a year recuperating in a sanatorium.”

Letter from Madame Savoye to Le Corbusier: “It’s raining in the hall, it’s raining on the ramp, and the wall of the garage is absolutely soaked.  What’s more, it’s still raining in my bathroom, which floods in bad weather, as the water comes in through the skylight.”    …. and even further added on to that…  “After innumberable demands on my part, you have finally accepted that this house which you built in 1929 is uninhabitable.”

Interesting stuff huh?

-Becky Cole


Lecture Notes: Preston Scott Cohen

Preston Scott Cohen, Inc. Firm Official Site

Le Corbusiers Villa Savoye, an example of promenade architecturale

Le Corbusier's Villa Savoye, an example of "promenade architecturale"

Charles Jencks on “Promenade Architecturale”, as experienced in Le Corbusier’s Villa La Roche (1923):

“Open the door, go under a bridge, and the tight space explodes upwards and through punched-out voids that are mysteriously backlit. Go across the triple-height space, look at the Purist paintings, one of which you now seem to be moving through, turn left up a stair, and survey the pure prisms from a balcony. Catch your breath, turn around, and proceed to the culmination, La Roche’s curved gallery… [M]ount the brown ramp to the left, to Le Roche’s aerie, his top-lit library. The spatial sequence is remarkable and remained a constant preoccupation of Le Corbusier. It also became the stock in trade of subsequent Modern architects.”

Santa Maria presso San Satiro, designed by Bramante (1482). Bramante designed an anamorphic apse to compensate for the narrow site constraints

Santa Maria presso San Satiro, designed by Bramante (1482). Bramante designed an anamorphic apse to compensate for the narrow site constraints


San Satiro apse seen from the oblique. The anamorphic effect is revealed.



via Wikipedia

September 2022


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