Reading Le Corbusier in 2015

MLewyn's picture

I just finished reading Concerning Town Planning, a short book of essays by Le Corbusier.  Before reading this, all I knew about him was a few key phrases: "Radiant City" and "towers in a park."  And Le Corbusier did indeed like high-rises surrounded by greenery. 

But I was surprised by what he had in common with today's urbanists.  He thought expanding suburbs caused waste of infrastructure, and accordingly was for strict urban growth boundaries.   Sounding a bit like Jane Jacobs, he pointed out that "Nature melts under the invasion of roads and houses and the promised seclusion becomes a crowded settlement."  He also was for pedestrian malls, suggesting that "The heart of the [typical] town .... will be forbidden to vehicles by chains of bollards." He would have hated stroads, writing again and again and again that pedestrians and cars belonged on different streets. 

But I don't think he would like most new urbanist developments;the more suburban versions of new urbanism (such as Denver's Stapleton) would have struck him as too similar to sprawl, and the more urban versions as disgracefully old-fashioned. 


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