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LeCorbusier, The root of all evil?


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#1 Coreyburger

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Posted 02 December 2008 - 08:17 PM

edit by mod: Split from the Railyards thread

Songhees is "classic towers in a park" le corbusier-style. And just like every other "tower in a park", they are basically giant dead things grafted on to some nature bandages.

#2 Ms. B. Havin

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Posted 02 December 2008 - 09:57 PM

^ Hang on a minute - Songhees is dead-ugly, kitschy, and a waste of space. But it's never a "'classic towers in a park' le corbusier-style"!

First, it's not in a park. Second, it's not towers. Third - last but not least - it's not Corbu, it's crap.

I mean, c'mon. I'm not a fan of Corbusier's ideas, but please don't insult the man by comparing the Songhees to his work.
When you buy a game, you buy the rules. Play happens in the space between the rules.

#3 Caramia

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Posted 02 December 2008 - 10:48 PM

Oh you've done it now Corey, them's fighting words. Put em up!
Nowadays most people die of a sort of creeping common sense, and discover when it is too late that the only things one never regrets are one's mistakes.
Oscar Wilde (1854 - 1900), The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891

#4 Rob Randall

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Posted 02 December 2008 - 10:53 PM

Railyards looks like toy trains. I call them Le Cabooseier

“I mean I just don’t understand the big Texas part, like maybe he’s from Texas? I want to know the back story.”


#5 jklymak

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Posted 03 December 2008 - 07:12 AM

I don't know my Le Corbusier from my La Cabooserie, but the criticisms under his name in Wikipedia sound like the criticisms of Songhees. i.e. "By mating utilitarian and financial image of the skyscraper city to the romantic image of the organic environment, Le Corbusier had, in fact, produced a sterile hybrid." That Songees got the version created by the B-student-from-a-cutrate-urban-planning-school is not terribly surprising.

#6 Baro

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Posted 03 December 2008 - 07:36 AM

Fatscrapers in a park-like setting?
"beats greezy have baked donut-dough"

#7 G-Man

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Posted 03 December 2008 - 08:06 AM

^ Songhees is indeed a Corbusier like plan, except for the towers bit. Railyards on the other han I would argue is not anything Corbusier would have supported or designed.

Should the Railyards build out in a similar fasion to what has already been done or perhaps densify it would be a vast improvement on anything in the Songhees.

The key, in my opinion, to the future success of Railyards is how they make it relate to the Dockside project as well as the Westside Village rather than turning its back on these new urban nodes.

#8 jklymak

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Posted 03 December 2008 - 08:19 AM

I agree. My biggest complaint with some of these developments is that they emphatically turn away from the main roads. Dockside seems to be designed w/ interacting with the throughfares, and I think will be an improvement.

FWIW I like the Railyards, But it is kind of stuck in the middle of nowhere. Smart growth needs to be somewhat organic.

#9 Coreyburger

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Posted 03 December 2008 - 11:29 PM

^ Hang on a minute - Songhees is dead-ugly, kitschy, and a waste of space. But it's never a "'classic towers in a park' le corbusier-style"!

First, it's not in a park. Second, it's not towers. Third - last but not least - it's not Corbu, it's crap.

I mean, c'mon. I'm not a fan of Corbusier's ideas, but please don't insult the man by comparing the Songhees to his work.


By park, Corbusier meant green space. Remember, he was comparing it to European cities of the late 19th century.

As for height, it is debateable, but the same effect would be seen with towers 30 or 100 stories tall.

(As an aside, the idea of sururbs was living in a park. Part of that "park" would be the front lawns of every single property, hence why they had setbacks and didn't build right to the street.)

#10 Ms. B. Havin

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Posted 04 December 2008 - 07:21 PM

^ Well, we'll have to agree to disagree on this. I think if Corbu saw the Songhees and learned that he was being compared to those nasty fake turreted piles with their phony "heritage" look, he'd have a une vache.
When you buy a game, you buy the rules. Play happens in the space between the rules.

#11 Coreyburger

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Posted 04 December 2008 - 08:09 PM

^ Well, we'll have to agree to disagree on this. I think if Corbu saw the Songhees and learned that he was being compared to those nasty fake turreted piles with their phony "heritage" look, he'd have a une vache.


Personally, I wish Le Corbusier had never existed. His ideas have been and continue to be very dangerous, in the very literal (more crime) and more philsophical sense (people think they are a good idea).

#12 Lover Fighter

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Posted 04 December 2008 - 09:30 PM

I can't remember the last time Le Corbusier was mentioned and someone responded "what a good idea!"

#13 Baro

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Posted 04 December 2008 - 10:12 PM

I'd like to introduce you to most of the zoning bylaws in north america
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#14 Ms. B. Havin

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Posted 04 December 2008 - 11:57 PM

I can't remember the last time Le Corbusier was mentioned and someone responded "what a good idea!"


It's not about whether anyone likes Corbusier (for the record, I don't and never have, although I actually did talk to an architect just a year ago who is a fan of his).

I just think that comparing Songhees and the work of Corbusier is like comparing apples and oranges - no, wait, that's an insult to fruit. It's like comparing black velvet paintings and Mondrian. Two totally different things, qualitatively and in degree. I don't buy that Songhees is in any way a watered-down version of Corbusier's thinking, either.

Anyway, this thread is about Railyards. So I'll shut up now.
When you buy a game, you buy the rules. Play happens in the space between the rules.

#15 FunkyMunky

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Posted 05 December 2008 - 03:18 PM

Personally, I wish Le Corbusier had never existed. His ideas have been and continue to be very dangerous, in the very literal (more crime) and more philsophical sense (people think they are a good idea).


Ah, wow. Are you always this dismissive of new ideas or just the ones that with 50 years of hindsight didn't turnout 100% perfect?

Apparently not everyone agrees with your dim view of the Swiss architect and planner. From the course From Here To Modernity developed by the BBC / The Open University:

After the Second World War, with Europe's housing problems worse than ever, Le Corbusier got his chance to put his urban theories into practice. The Unité d'Habitation in Marseilles (1952) is a synthesis of three decades of Corbusian domestic and urban thinking. Seventeen storeys high and designed to house 1,600 people, the Unite incorporates various types of apartment, shops, clubs and meeting room, all connected by raised 'streets'. There is also a hotel and recreation facilities. It is now an immensely popular building, and a coveted address for Marseille's middle-class professionals today.

When Le Corbusier died in 1965, the backlash against Modernism was gaining momentum. His theories on urban renewal were plagiarised by local authorities on tight budgets, which often failed to understand the essential humanism behind Le Corbusier's plans.... But blaming Le Corbusier as the architect of post-war housing failure ignores the deep concern for human comfort and health that underpinned his work.


Songhees is "classic towers in a park" le corbusier-style. And just like every other "tower in a park", they are basically giant dead things grafted on to some nature bandages.


And there have even been good example of this concept, too. For example, Lafayette Park in Detroit designed by architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and urban planner Ludwig Hilberseimer for developer Herbert Greenwald. You might want to flip through the current issue of Dwell Magazine where it is discussed in positive terms.

High-rise superblocks and identical clusters of row houses set apart from the urban grid have been much maligned as some of the major wrongdoings of modernism, but Detroit’s Lafayette Park—the first urban-renewal project in the United States—tells a vastly different story.



And what any of this has to do with The Songhees or The Railyards, I do not know.

#16 Coreyburger

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Posted 05 December 2008 - 03:43 PM

Ah, wow. Are you always this dismissive of new ideas or just the ones that with 50 years of hindsight didn't turnout 100% perfect?

Apparently not everyone agrees with your dim view of the Swiss architect and planner. From the course From Here To Modernity developed by the BBC / The Open University:

After the Second World War, with Europe's housing problems worse than ever, Le Corbusier got his chance to put his urban theories into practice. The Unité d'Habitation in Marseilles (1952) is a synthesis of three decades of Corbusian domestic and urban thinking. Seventeen storeys high and designed to house 1,600 people, the Unite incorporates various types of apartment, shops, clubs and meeting room, all connected by raised 'streets'. There is also a hotel and recreation facilities. It is now an immensely popular building, and a coveted address for Marseille's middle-class professionals today.

When Le Corbusier died in 1965, the backlash against Modernism was gaining momentum. His theories on urban renewal were plagiarised by local authorities on tight budgets, which often failed to understand the essential humanism behind Le Corbusier's plans.... But blaming Le Corbusier as the architect of post-war housing failure ignores the deep concern for human comfort and health that underpinned his work.




And there have even been good example of this concept, too. For example, Lafayette Park in Detroit designed by architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and urban planner Ludwig Hilberseimer for developer Herbert Greenwald. You might want to flip through the current issue of Dwell Magazine where it is discussed in positive terms.

High-rise superblocks and identical clusters of row houses set apart from the urban grid have been much maligned as some of the major wrongdoings of modernism, but Detroit’s Lafayette Park—the first urban-renewal project in the United States—tells a vastly different story.



And what any of this has to do with The Songhees or The Railyards, I do not know.


I would reply, but I will leave this thread to the Railyards.

#17 jklymak

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Posted 05 December 2008 - 04:07 PM

I think this is a very interesting discussion! I'm certainly learning a lot. Maybe the mods could move it to a thread in Urban Design so no one feels awkward continuing it?

edit by mod - Done! :)

#18 Ms. B. Havin

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Posted 05 December 2008 - 08:52 PM

And what any of this has to do with The Songhees or The Railyards, I do not know.


Thank-you, FunkyMunky, for standing up for Corbu!
When you buy a game, you buy the rules. Play happens in the space between the rules.

#19 G-Man

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Posted 09 December 2008 - 09:54 AM

I would hardly term Lafayette Park in Detroit as a stunning example of urbanity.

Le Corbu had an original idea that seemed nice but didn't work in the urban context. It seemed that the thought was that it was the pastoral setting that is missing from cities and that providing it would somehow create a utopia. The problem is that one of the main benefits of a city is that it brings a large amount of people together to do a myriad of different things. Le Corbu's designs actually but a break on this melange of people and it is why now we see the problems with the designs. Still I would never say that what he did was not innovative and interesting, just not practical after many years of testing.

#20 Coreyburger

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Posted 10 December 2008 - 03:05 PM

Corbusier can properly be seen as the ultimate in the separation of work and residence built on the giant scale. As such, he is merely the most extreme of his age.

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