Le Corbusier: The City of Refuge, Paris 1929-33 by Brian Brace Taylor
The City of Refuge complex—commissioned by the Salvation Army as part of its program to transform social outcasts into spiritually renewed workers—represents a significant confluence of design principles, technological experiments, and attitudes on reform. It also provides rare insights into the work of one of the twentieth century's greatest architects, Le Corbusier.
Brian Brace Taylor draws on extensive archival research to reconstruct each step of the architect's attraction to the commission, his design process and technological innovations, the social and philosophical compatibility of the Salvation Army with Le Corbusier's own ideas for urban planning, and finally, the many modifications required, first to eliminate defects and later to accommodate changes in the services the building provided. Throughout, Taylor focuses on Le Corbusier's environmental, technological, and social intentions as opposed to his strictly formal intentions. He shows that the City of Refuge became primarily a laboratory for the architect's own research and not simply a conventional solution to residents' requirements or the Salvation Army's program.
Preface Introduction by Kenneth Frampton 1. A Sacred Asylum The "Grand Scheme" of General Booth The Salvation Army in France Ideological Sympathies between Le Corbusier and the Salvation Army 2. The Project and its Variations Typological Precedents Finances and the Choice of an Architect Conception of the Project Design Phases The Four Preliminary Projects Definitive Proposal Alterations Due to Regulations 3. A "Progressive" Building Site? The Structure of the Cité The Curtain-Wall Glass Bricks Ceramic Tiles Thermal Insulation Bidding by Contractors Rationalization of the Building Site Foundations Heating and Ventilation Systems Modifications of the Crèche Surcharges and Architecs' Responsibilities 4. The Controversy Inauguration A Question of "Exact Breathing" Additional Defects Modifications after World War II A Problematic Restoration 5. Conclusion The Cité de Refuge as Instrument for Social Control Ideology and Reality of Rationalized Production Appendix Notes