The landscape architecture of Le Corbusier and the other Pioneer Modern Masters

If Walter Gropius had been as interested in de Stijl landscape architecture as he was in de Stijl architecture, he might have taken inspiration from the front cover of de Stijl Magazine (used here to replace one of the Bauhaus lawns with a landscape design)

If Walter Gropius had been as interested in de Stijl landscape architecture as he was in de Stijl architecture, he might have taken inspiration from the front cover of de Stijl Magazine (used here to replace one of the Bauhaus lawns with a landscape design)

  • Edwin and Joy Hoag, in a 1977 book, identified the Masters of Modern Architecture as Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe and Walter Gropius. Their relationship with landscape architecture deserves more attention than it normally receives.
    Thinking of modern architecture more generally, I believe the principle of abstraction, on which it rested artistically, led to buildings being conceived in abstraction from contexts – so the style could be, and was, described as ‘international’. Natural landscapes were regarded as good settings for buildings. Gardens were thought of as bourgeois baubles. But generalisations have exceptions. Frank Lloyd Wright did a wonderful job of integrating Falling Water with the surrounding landscape. Mies van der Rohe created a masterly composition of architecture and landscape for his Barcelona Pavilion.
    Le Corbusier was very interested in the integration of architecture and landscape but was a poor landscape architect. This point is best illustrated by his designs for Chandigarh . Part of the problem, notwithstanding the Modulor, was that he thought more on an Alpine scale than on a human scale. He also loved aerial views. The places he made were too large and insufficiently people-friendly – as with the Ville Radieuse (below). There is a remarkable contrast between the total failure of Corbusier’s design for the Capitol Complex in Chandigarh and the total success of the design for the adjoining site (Nek Chand’s Rock Garden) by an untrained roads inspector who worked illegally and without funding.

    Four posts re Chandigarh urban planning, landscape architecture and garden design

Le Corbusier treated greenspace as something to be seen rather than used (Ville Radieuse)

Le Corbusier treated greenspace as something to be seen rather than used (Ville Radieuse). Experience has revealed that this type of green space receives very little social use

Tom Turner

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  1. […] Corbusier’s urban design for Chandigarh is seen in the west as a disaster. This assessment dates from the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, when the roads had few motor vehicles and the roadside trees were saplings (see photos of Chandigarh’s roads, below). Corbusier’s Rule of the Seven Roads then seemed ridiculous. But Chandigarh, like most Indian cities is now thronged with vehicles and they can move about more easily in Chandigarh than in other Indian cities. The above video reviews Chandigarh’s planning, urban design and landscape architecture – and agrees with Indian critics that ‘it’s pretty darn good’. Corbusier’s design for the Capitol project will be the subject of a future video. See also: The landscape architecture of Le Corbusier and the other Pioneer Modern Masters […]