People have been designing and describing utopias for a long time. These...

People have been designing and describing utopias for a long time. These non-places, which is what the word means, have always been located far away in the distant future or in a land beyond the horizon. Onearchitect created a thoroughly modern utopia. It was also a non-place. But a non-place thatwas in danger of being bombed.

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In the 1920s, Le Corbusier started designing a new kind of city in which the marvels of modern technology would provide for a healthy, clean, fast and beautiful life. In 1935, between World Wars, heconsolidated his ideas in a huge volume, The Radiant City. The city was radiant because the buildings, spaced far apart, would allow for everything to bask insunshine. But it was also radiant because it was meant to be a beacon of modernist planning. It was not only Le Corbusiers printed volume that was huge; buildings in his utopia we're huge as well. This is how the book presents a comparison between Paris and one of hismeandering blocks:

The Paris shown on the left was designed and built under the guidance of Le Corbusiers idol, Baron Haussmann. This man in the 1860s leveled half of Paris in order to build large boulevards. Le Corbusiers plan was to pay homage to his idol by, in turn, levellinghis work. That was not entirely paradoxical. Because what mattered was to repeat the inspired destruction of what exists, to recreate a blank slate, to transform the city into a white piece of paper on which the architect could draw his utopia.

In addition to blank slates and white pieces of paper Le Corbusier loved beaches. Beaches we're existingversion of the blank slate. And they we're places where people came to enjoy sunshine, air, and a healthy lifestyle. Beaches were, so to say, conceptual scale models for his city of light. It is thusno wander that the architect tries to depict utopianot only by presenting his drawings, but also by peppering his book with photographslike these:

In thehousing complexes of the "radiant city" all of life would, more or less, be like life at the beach. Flat rooftops would be places where children and adults could play, sunbathe and jump around. Between buildings therewould be huge lawns where sports-minded individuals could, presumably, play soccer. People would be akin to airplanes, parking themselves on great decks on and above ground, as if they we're always prepared to rise into the skies of the radiant future.

Le Corbusier, however, faced a problem with the actual airplanes. They we're the symbols of modernity, of the free rise to the skies, but also menacing tools of destruction. They could create the blank slate the architect wanted butalso reduce his project to a blank slate. So Le Corbusier decided to confront this problem. He drewan image called Aerial Warfare, in which he illustrates how his city would defend itself from airplanes. Which was very pertinent, because war speakwas in the 1930sat the rise in Europe, and WWI, the first event when airplanes we're used for mass destruction, was not long ago.

The architect devised the plan after being enlightened byDanger from the Air and this Countrys Future, a treatise composed by an army lieutenant.According to the architect,Pariswas condemned in case of attacks from the skies. As Le Corbusier states in a title of a drawing, "The Radiant City is Defended". It is safe because modern beaches on it's rooftops becomemilitary defense devices. They havemetal plating which providesdefinitive anti-bomb protection. The vast fields between buildings allow for poison gas to spread around.Now there is real sand and water. On top of buildings there are sandbags. In between buildings there arebe ponds, from which the poison is "hosed".

What was defendedwas not he present. Rather, as Le Corbusier's lieutenant would have wanted it, "the future of the country". Notreality but utopia. Le Corbusier's creationbelonged to the age ofplanners'and warriors' attacks on the city, sometimes indiscernible as leveling by design. In this age, the radiant city was also made possible by leveling, but was the last Paristo be leveled. The indestructible utopia that would emerge victorious from the modern Armageddon,the final war in which urbanistsand pilots periodically conspire to bring the world to an end.

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Posted in Real Estate Post Date 06/27/2022






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