Le Corbusier believed that they were the most important aspects, along with space, in the modernisation of architecture and within the context of town planning. It is important to explore Le Corbusier’s ideas on what he considered to be the basic pleasures of all human existence because it is the core of his designs. Le Corbusier believed that these basic pleasures ‘penetrate into the uttermost depths of our physiological and psychological being. They bring us back into harmony with the profound and natural purpose of life. ’ (Le Corbusier 1967, p. 86).
This is a demonstration of how Le Corbusier work is mirrored in the DCM and shows a direct link to the initial stage of identifying needs and opportunities. Research: The research aspect of the DCM is that the designer identifies places that they will obtain their information and inspiration from. The Design Technology syllabus states ‘A variety of sources for collection of suitable data should be identified and priorities made clear’ (International Baccalaureate Organization 2007, p. 25). After these sources are identified information and data is then collected from these areas.
This information and data can be given in the form of pictures, words, drawings etc. This data then needs to be processed and analysed to enable it to be manipulated. It then helps the designer to form ideas and specifications. Research can be seen through Le Corbusier’s apprenticeships. Initially he travelled extensively throughout Europe studying and drawing an array of architectural structures. However, ‘his chief source of inspiration was the machine. He wanted to create architecture that functioned with the same slick efficiency and economy of design as a car or an aeroplane’ (McDermott 1997, p.49).
This machine driven vision also influenced him to set precise specifications such as the basic pleasures when designing. Le Corbusier conducted much of his research ‘in the field’, meaning that he physically went to the places he was designing so that he could observe for himself the way that it was planned and the aspects that were missing or needed to be improved. As previously discussed, Le Corbusier had identified many poor quality Parisian living issues which lead him to visit and research the slums of Paris.
The streets as depicted in the photograph below show none of his basic pleasures. These ‘corridor streets’ had no sun, sky, trees and little space. Many of Le Corbusier’s ideas and research opportunities stemmed from his apprenticeships with other architects such as Auguste Perret, Josef Hoffmann and Peter Behrens. For example one of his mentors, Auguste Perret, was the French pioneer of reinforced concrete which demonstrates that the impact of working with Perret influenced Le Corbusier’s decision to add concrete to his basic pleasures specification list.
Josef Hoffmann through functional clarity and abstract purity also influenced Le Corbusier to design using grids and squares and can be seen in his buildings such as the Casa Curutchet. Le Corbusier was also influenced by Peter Behrens who was the pioneer of industrial design in the area of buildings. His works used materials such as concrete brick and glass, all of which are seen to be used by Le Corbusier. Through working with the above architects and designers Le Corbusier undertook research using his teachers and instructors as a source to add to his own design ideas and specifications.
These aspects of design can be seen in Le Corbusier’s works where his projects have good function but are not over complicated. This information supports the argument that the DCM is an effective way of explaining the processes that Le Corbusier took and that it influenced the direction of his approach to modern architecture. Generating ideas: The generating ideas stage of the DCM involves many different methods of finding and gathering ideas. The Design Technology syllabus for the IB states that; the generating ideas aspect involves divergent thinking1
(International Baccalaureate Organization 2007, p.162) to consider ways in which a problem may be solved. The starting point for the generation of ideas should be the design specification, and proposals should be evaluated against this specification, with evidence of relevant research used to rate the ideas in terms of their usefulness. A variety of approaches such as divergent thinking1 can be used to aid in the generation of ideas. Le Corbusier’s work can be explored through this stage of the DCM and through the examination of his ideas and concepts.
Le Corbusier used his identification of needs and his basic pleasures research, to generate new ideas such as the five points of architecture. It is evident that Le Corbusier has chosen these five points of architecture to compliment his basic pleasures. Le Corbusier created five points of architecture through his research and apprenticeships with other architects. The five points are to be used in the design of buildings to ensure that each building also includes his five basic materials. These five points of architecture are;
1 Divergent thinking is when a designer uses creative thinking to come up with a wide range of possible solutions to a problem. 1. the use of pilotis (supports), 2. free facade walls, 3. large horizontal of strips of ribbon windows 4. the addition of a roof garden (Le Corbusier 1931, p. 44) Pilotis are reinforced concrete poles or columns that made it possible to have free facade walls. These free facade walls are non-supporting walls and could be placed wherever Le Corbusier wanted and could be used for artistic and aesthetic purposes.
The use of the windows implemented the important basic pleasures such as sun. These windows allowed people to observe their surroundings. The last point of architecture formed by Le Corbusier was to include a roof garden. This was created to sustain the idea of trees and greenery and were used to replace the greenery that the building itself was taking up. Le Corbusier also invented his own measuring system which he called the ‘Modulor’ system. He used this measurement system in the creation of his buildings and other designs specifically furniture.
These ideas demonstrate the divergent thinking that was undertaken by Le Corbusier, hence relating it to this stage and the research question. These ideas demonstrate a forward movement in modern architecture due to the influence of Le Corbusier, these ideas fall into the area of generating ideas in the DCM because Le Corbusier has used divergent thinking to produce a range of ideas and theories to help him solve the problems that he has identified and researched. This supports the theory that the work of Le Corbusier can be explored in the context of the DCM stages (International Baccalaureate Organization 2007, p.47).
Developing solutions: The developing solutions stage of the DCM is where the designer collates the identification of needs, research and ideas stages of the DCM and develops the consolidated ideas into suitable solutions that fit the specifications of the problem. New ideas may also be formed in the developing solutions stage as these may stem from the preceding hypothesis and ideas. Le Corbusier developed the basic materials, five points of architecture and the Modulor measurement concepts into solutions.
The outcome was the creation of artificial sites (a single floor or level). Figure 1 (Appendix A) is an enlarged drawing of a diagram (Le Corbusier’s 1967, p. 58) it is one of a series of diagrams that demonstrates the use of artificial sites. Within the context of the drawing he has included many artificial sites (seven artificial sites built above each other) as he believed that instead of having smaller buildings (Figure 2), the latest technology, the formation of the machine and beginning of the ‘Machine Age’ allowed him to design the buildings higher.
This is because without things such as elevators and electricity it would be very inconvenient to make such tall buildings. This aspect fits into topics 5. 3: mechanisms and 8. 1: energy of the Design Technology syllabus (International Baccalaureate Organization 2007, pp 64-65, 71-72). Another idea that was developed into a solution was the Modular system. This was a system which Le Corbusier created to ensure that all ‘masses of different shape and size should be aesthetically related’ (Furneaux 1972, p. 32).
Le Corbusier developed this method because he believed that ‘god is a mathematician’ (Furneaux 1972, p.33) and that all human measurements were relative to one another. He used this often in his building and furniture designs, for example the ‘Centre Le Corbusier in Zurich is two cubes, designed by Le Corbusier himself, with a ramp and an umbrella roof, also all steel. It is an exercise in modulor construction elegantly carried out using enameled steel panels and glass infill’ (Fletcher 1996 p. 1352). These are some of Le Corbusier’s most important solutions that he developed that mirrors his modernist approach to architecture.
Furthermore this enabled him to influence the direction in which modern architecture advanced. Realising solutions: The realising solutions stage of the DCM is explained in the Design Technology syllabus as; a final concept is developed taking into account the conflicting needs of the manufacturer and the user, and the requirement of the design as set out in the specifications. A complete proposal is developed based upon the research and the designer’s personal ideas (International Baccalaureate Organization 2007, p.7)
This stage involves detailed drawings (of a style relevant to the task). This stage can be connected to Le Corbusier by investigating the application of his developed solutions. La Villa Savoye is one of many houses designed by Le Corbusier and is a well known building to which he applied his theory of the five points of architecture. It is a good example of how he used pilotis. These pilotis act as the supports for the house, leading to the free facade walls. By using these supports not as many walls are necessary meaning that there is more open space.
Furthermore this relates to his idea of basic pleasures, with space being one of them. This space can also be seen in the living room of the Villa Savoye in the photograph below. Apart from the creation of space, living room design also demonstrates the use of horizontal, ribbon windows. This corresponds with Le Corbusier’s concepts of the basic pleasures and allows people within the building to appreciate the greenery, the trees and their surroundings. The Villa Savoye demonstrates many of the ideas that Le Corbusier has applied to his architecture and buildings.
Other buildings that Le Corbusier has applied the five points of architecture to are; the Suisse Pavillion, the Casa Curutchet, Sainte Marie de La Tourette and the Unite Housing blocks. The application of Le Corbusier’s artificial site or flat also became a realisation and can be seen through buildings such as Unite d’Habitation in Marseille. This building is an excellent demonstration of Le Corbusier’s application of artificial sites, and it includes the use of pilotis, horizontal windows and a roof garden, which can be seen in the images below.
These buildings greatly demonstrate the application of Le Corbusier’s developed solutions into a real life situation and shows that the DCM is reflected in his modern architecture. He went on to use these principles with other project including his approach to the re-designing of Chandigarh in India. Consequently this builds and supports the argument that the DCM can be used effectively to understand Le Corbusier work and his modernist approach to architecture. Unite d’habaitation design (above) and realisation of the solution (right)