Le Corbusier: The Poetics of Machine and Metaphorby Alexander Tzonis, Le Corbusier
Modern houses of this era were often commissioned by maverick clients, who overrode the opposition of stick-in-the-mud neighbors and Neanderthal officials to create something tailored to their needs and desires. Often they shared their architects' vision of creating a brave new world of rational plans and unornamented planes, lightweight construction and free-flowing volumes, transparency and openness. However, in America, little attention was paid to social issues. Beauty and convenience were the overriding concerns of architects who designed the purist white stucco curves and cubes of the 'thirties, organic forms in the tradition of Frank Lloyd Wright, and the lightweight post-and-beam structures of the 'fifties.
These middle-class villas were the outgrowth of a movement that began in Europe as a political and social experiment to improve the lives of the masses. In Holland and Germany, Switzerland and Scandinavia, municipalities, industrial corporations, and non-profit organizations embraced modernism as the logical way of upgrading cities and workplaces, and creating new communities. The first world war and the Russian Revolution inspired progressive thinkers to act. Model housing, schools, sanatoria, and public buildings went up all over northern Europe and in Mussolini's Italy. Modernism became part of the everyday landscape, overwhelming conservative resistance to change and the average person's dislike of the unfamiliar. The Bauhaus was fiercely unpopular among provincial Germans, but it made a lasting impact on that country in a way that American pioneers could only dream of.
Author Biography: Alexander Tzonis holds the chair in Architectural Theory and Design Methods at the University of Technology of Delft and is director of DKS (Design Knowledge Systems). As the general editor of the Garland Architectural Archives, he published the complete archives of Le Corbusier in 32 volumes. Among his numerous publications is Santiago Calatrava: The Poetics of Movement, another volume in Universe's architecture series.
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