It was announced last week that Unesco adds 17 Le Corbusier buildings to its list of world heritage. The famous designer has recently been receiving much, though mixed attention; while news of his purported fascist and anti-Semitic sympathies widely spread in the media, crowds lined up for Centre Pompidou’s grand exposition on LC’s life and work. Regardless, a world heritage status is a just, though somewhat late, acknowledgment of the architect who in the 1980s, when I was a student, was worshipped, not only in France, but worldwide.
Friend and foe have recognized LC as the most important architect of the twentieth century. But today, almost two decades into the next century, younger generations of students and architects seem to have lost interest in and knowledge of LC. All the more reason to re-appreciate his work today! LC’s impressive oeuvre – his buildings, writing, and many sketches – embody a continuous search for new forms, techniques, and modes of living and working.
After years of crisis, in which conservative concepts dominated, it is time we again dare to ask theoretical questions, experiment, and seek to innovate – this time within our present context. Here especially, LC can set the right example to those new generations that will come to determine our built environment; it may involve a hint of heroism and eccentricity, but also requires guts and perseverance.
During a team-excursion to Marseille last year, we visited the Unité, one of the buildings now on UNESCO’s list. Everyone was impressed with its idealist power and beauty. LC was a visionary with an uncompromising faith in the future and in progress. His work deserves a world heritage status, and LC deserves a new generation of architects, which again believes in research, ideals, experimentation, and innovation.
July 2016, Cobouw.nl