Thursday, 12 April 2012

Apartment Le Corbusier

In no matter how many years of study it takes to become an architect, they never teach you, we never teach you, this bit. Staring out over the deep blue dawn of the estuary because you can't sleep (see below). You are responsible for it, but you are not the one doing it (you've left him up to his neck in it) and you have run out of unfortunate military metaphors; be it the avoidance of 'mission creep', the carnage of destruction, the consequences on the innocent (Pat next door) or the eventual crisis of resources. And this is just a kitchen. What we teach is apparently, to me right now, is just the dreamy bit.
It says a great deal for architecture that it's detachment from actually doing it has bred such a superfluous appetite for difficulty, for funny angles and complex juxtapositions across all areas, where the simple things are so hard to do in the first place.
Both of these things make me think of Le Corbusier's plan for his own apartment, the seventh and eighth floors of 24 Rue Nungesser et Coli (1934). From what I can see from the plans, the main access is from the service lift or main stair, both of which are peripheral, and the machinery room (no doubt expressed) of the main lift (stopping on the sixth floor) as a consequence occupies the space of his dining room*. Now I must go and see this. LC's enthusiasm for machinery extends to him hearing it, and staring at it as other people use it, as he contemplates his cornflakes and prepares for a morning painting in the studio across the hall? He creates for himself and Yvonne that kind of most secluded, detached, and yet intricately involved negotiation with the world around or in this case below them via this apparently simple manipulation of vertical circulation? Is this his most blatant expression of technological power?
From this perspective, now the new day has broken, he certainly understood something about this business. Our fun fair below will resume in a couple of hours I guess, and those container ships really do move at a rate of knots.

*On closer scrutiny it kinda does but doesn't, it's boxed in, but no doubt with access. It would no doubt have been much better in a glazed box.

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