If you wanted to define the theory of modern
architecture at its purest you could do worse than "A Contemporary
City of Three Million" from 1923 by Charles-Édouard Jeanneret
(1887-1965) aka "Le Corbusier. "
And what exactly was this theory? Sorry,
but if you have to ask, then you are far too bourgeois to understand.
Okay, okay, I'll condescend this once by explaining
that the important thing is not what it is, but what it
isn't. And what it isn't is bourgeois.
Look at this city. The buildings are all
straight lines and boxes. They stand perched on columns for no
good reason. Nothing gives any impression of being handmade that
can't be stamped out by a machine. Craftsmanship is nowhere to
be found because only the bourgeoisie can afford craftsmen.
Everything is concrete, glass, steel, and stucco. No colours are
used when white, grey, black, or beige are available.
Functionalism is everything, right down to the sheer facades.
There are no eaves and the roof is inevitably flat. Never mind
that flat roofs leak, are structurally weaker than peaked roofs,
harder to construct, and tend to collapse under heavy loads of
snow. Or that the lack of eaves mean that the rain is free to
cascade down the sides of the buildings until the concrete becomes a
mottled grey mess like fish fillets that have been left out on the
doorstep overnight. At least it isn't bourgeois.
But what are these buildings supposed to be? Government offices?
Headquarters for some super mega conglomerate?
Yes, Le Corbusier expected the masses to live in
these giant concrete hives in flats stripped bare of any ornaments or
colour and when they finally manage to escape from their warrens they
have nothing to look forward to except empty spaces between the
buildings and the the most dangerous aerodrome in history slapped
smack in the middle of the mall just to confuse people and keep the
Fortunately, nobody would touch Le Corbusier's
project with a bargepole, so civilisation was spared a very expensive
demolition bill decades later.