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Towards a New Architecture

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  3,707 ratings  ·  116 reviews
For the Swiss-born architect and city planner Le Corbusier (Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, 1887–1965), architecture constituted a noble art, an exalted calling in which the architect combined plastic invention, intellectual speculation, and higher mathematics to go beyond mere utilitarian needs, beyond "style," to achieve a pure creation of the spirit which established "emotio ...more
Paperback, 289 pages
Published February 1st 1985 by Dover Publications (first published 1923)
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Jon Boorstin
Mar 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
When I was in architecture school in England, Corb, as we called him, was the master (and Alvar Aalto the disciple). He stated the case for modern architecture so convincingly that it seemed the only possible altenative. In his hands, it was beautiful and practical, and also economical. He had a zen spareness about his work, and a sculptural gift. His drawings and his furniture are exciting, without being gaudy. Quite the opposite. He exemplified Less is More. And he taught me, and a generation ...more
Feb 09, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Is this a foundational text that gives me a better framework for understanding 20th-century architecture? Yes. Did I strongly dislike it? Also yes.

In fairness, it’s hard to get in the mindset of 1923, and I think the past 100 years haven’t been kind to elite European men who believe their opinions constitute an immutable and universal truth. For instance:

“Decoration is of a sensorial and elementary order, as is colour, and is suited to simple races, peasants and savages. Harmony and proportion i
Jun 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The Swiss-French architect Charles-Edouard Jenneret, better known as "Le Corbusier" (1887-1965), was so innovative in his choices of building materials, arrangement of mass and flexibility of purpose that his very name became synonymous with "modern architecture." In this 1933 book, originally published in French as Vers une Architecture, he championed the use of cast concrete, plate glass, open staircases and curtain walls, designed ambitious public-housing schemes (and had most of them built), ...more
Mar 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
I don't like the way Le Corbusier writes, but this book is epic. As a student of architecture I learned a lot from this book, mostly about the five principles of Modern Architecture. It isn't a boring book, but you have to be careful to interpretate some things he writes. It is definetly a must-read.
Nov 05, 2011 rated it did not like it
OK, this is a loaded review: this book and its author are my betes noir (excuse my nonexistent/incorrect French...the least revenge I can have...) - facile and mystifyingly still persuasive to generation after generation of architecture students and True Believers, despite the empirical evidence of the damage it wrought and the dubious actual quality of the man's work (this review being by someone who worked, practically lived, in the Carpenter Center for four years...and that building, unlike a ...more
Mary Soderstrom
May 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
I'm giving this book a four star rating, not because it is such good reading, but because it and the ideas of Swiss architect Le Corbusier were so influential in making the world as we know it.

His model of separation of work and residential sectors of cities, with vehicular traffic on the edges was followed all over the world for much of the 20th century. All those apartment blocks--both luxury and urban renewal--are the direct descendants of his tower in the park plans. So was the draconian re
Tim Drummond
Feb 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Tim by: Tate
a bit esoteric and socialist for my taste, but i spose i can still appreciate what Corbu is about. in a very broad sense, this manifesto is his urge to keep the pace of architecture at the pace of the rest of society's advancements. he points out the simple efficiency of things like grain silos, and how we strive to make our airplanes and automobiles as functional and streamlined as possible, but our houses haven't changed. where we differ begins with this statement:
"The house is a machine for l
Sheldon Doney
Oct 08, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: architecture
Much of what Le Corbusier advocates for in this book is terrific, though I wonder if he actually believed his own words. In practice, he fits the mold of a conventional engineer, while the prose of this work is written with lofty, creative, artistic sentiments. Le Corbusier's philosophy was largely detrimental, not beneficial, for society. His super blocks created isolated ghettos, his planning utopias ultimately influenced urban renewal horrors. Ironically, his actions were at odds with his wor ...more
May 07, 2019 added it
Shelves: arts-nonfiction
After years, I finally decided to read Le Corbusier in full-length form. It's pretty much the nearest thing modernism has to a manifesto, and by that, I mean modernism in all its forms. The premises are simple: tradition is restrictive, things should be functional, and our art should take our technological advances into account. These all seem like good things to me.

Of course, a lot of his beliefs seem naïve now -- the idea that good architecture = good people is thoroughly, thoroughly flawed. B
David McCormick
Nov 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I'm not a student of architecture by any means, but Corbu is a visionary. Perhaps this is why his ideas about architecture and society may seem either funny/crazy or scarily authoritarian to us today. Writing during the 20's he couldn't have known about Hitler or Stalin and the danger of trying to create a literal utopia. He accurately reflects the more optimistic sensibilities of the time. A recommendation: Read this one and then Jane Jacobs "The Death and Life of Great American Cities" for a g ...more
Jan 10, 2012 rated it did not like it
I hate his eyesore buildings that I've been forced to look at in numerous areas of the planet, and I really, really hate his ideas.
Aug 22, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: architecture
must read for architects
Blue Morse
Sep 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Hard to imagine that a book written in 1931 by a French architect could apply so readily to the varying problems faced in multiple 21st Century fields of study... in my case in regards to military design.

I swapped the word “architecture” for “military design” in one of the sections and here’s how it read:

“Military design finds itself confronted with new laws. Disturbed by the reactions which play upon him from every quarter, the military designer of today is conscious, on the one hand, of a new
Jan 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
A must read for every architecture student.
It was interesting to dive into Le Corbusier’s mind to discover how he became the architect he was. There are a lot of similarities to his way of seeing his world a century ago and how we are living now.
”The elements of architecture are light and shade, walls and space. The arrangement is the gradation of aims, the classification of intentions.” ”Contour and profile are a pure creation of the mind; they call for the plastic artist.”
His manifesto is u
Andrew Fairweather
"Rome is the damnation of the half-educated. To send architectural students to Rome is to cripple them for life."

For whatever the GR star system is worth, I've never awarded such a low score for a writer I had so much respect for. Le Corbusier has such a powerful vision in 'Towards a New Architecture.; When we take into consideration the traditional currents he was swimming against, it's even more impressive an achievement. The writing is pretty airy, allowing thoughts to navigate freely around
Jan 24, 2013 rated it liked it
I read this book for a class assignment, I was looking forward to it because Le Corbusier is the biggest influence of the modern era of architecture, his principles are still up to date and architects all around the world still learn and apply his theories today (though I am not sure they should).
I found interesting to learn his reasonings for sustaning his Principles of Architecture,and for a thorough understanding I recommend also reading: The Athens Charter where his influence is noticeable
Aug 17, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anybody interested in 20th century society
I really loved this book. Lecorbusier, one of the founding fathers of the modernist movement, puts forward his arguments for society's embracing the 'mass production spirit'.

It's common knowledge that it hasn't really worked out as he expected it to but so much of what he has written has contributed to architecture. This book is full of innovative designs which unfortunately inspired poor implementations (high-rise poor areas all over the place). however, that says more against society's treatm
May 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: shelf
"You employ stone, wood and concrete, and with these materials you build houses and palaces. That is construction. Ingenuity is at work.
But suddenly you touch my heart, you do me good, I am happy and I say: "This is beautiful." That is Architecture. Art enters in."
Matthew Murphy
Feb 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
While the book is practically the treatise of what modern architecture of today attempts to achieve, I found the utopian justifications to be at times lacking and even a little troubling. I suppose the idea of a universal middle class, of mass produced art, of modular individualism, and of "big business" provokes many sci-fi horror stories of the 60s and 70s that still don't sit well with me. It's not as if privatized and gaudy capitalist expression and inequality is much of a better world anywa ...more
Lee Wenhao
Jan 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
To Le Corbusier, the essence of architecture, really, is a rhythm of lines aimed at capturing the complex language of mass, surface and plan. If all these elements gel well together, the buildings will turn out to be a masterpiece, incorporating the different shades of light perfectly. Meanwhile, he also argued that the objective of architecture is to create happiness for its inhabitants while striving to remain relevant to its building function. This proves that Le Corbusier is not just a mere ...more
Daniel Bickle-Lazarow
Jan 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Good modernism basics. I feel like this book should be read by every first year architecture student so they know what the crux of modernism was essentially about. Like minimalism, industrialisation, rationalism etc. it doesn’t cover basically any of the other interesting expressionistic or what not trends in modernism and is instead just a le corn manifesto.

Although there’s a lot left to be desired. Especially when he gets somewhat weirdly authoritarian and also in my opinion hints towards fasc
Marco Klein
Oct 15, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: architecture
A good, yet challenging read. The author's style is very cryptic, expressive, impulsive. Hidden amongst this are lots of great insights about architecture's role in society and factors relevant to architectural interiors. Keep in mind the historical context when reading this, since this 'manifesto' was a reaction to industrialisation and urban overpopulation in the early 1900s. This is a founding stone of modern architecture, and will reveal the newly suggested connection to engineering and our ...more
Jad Fenergi
Jul 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
A book that take you into the thought process of le Corbusier
He was fascinated by the industrial revolution and wanted for architecture to leap to the same level of effectiveness ,production and quality
He also addressed the state of mind of the people at that time and what role the architect has to play to save the modern family from dying and society from collapsing because of it
We did a 4 short videos summarising this book for anyone who want to have a quick glimpse of the ideas of this book
Kurtis Chen
Dec 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book is a mandatory read if you're interested in the history of architecture. Corbusier's writing can be dense, and he tends to wax poetically, but the ideas contained within are fundamental to modernism. Certainly, some of his ideas are daaaaaated and would no longer hold up in modern planning discourse, but it's an interesting look into the optimism of mid century modernists (I mean, a whole city built on piloti!?).
Mar 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed reading this book. I am a lover of art and architecture, of course. This book took me back to my college days when I took a class called ART AND ARCHITECTURE (as if the two are not one and the same). I enjoyed the time spent reading and remembering my former experiences.
My son is now an artist who works in the field of architecture.
Ieva Šukytė
What he is writing about gives more of understanding of a modern man in the begining of the 20th century. He proposes massive production as a solution for a human being and we all know how that turned out. Back then his ideas might have been groundbreaking, but some of them turned into to a real life product didn’t work as he might have expected.
Adam Welker
Dec 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2016
Le Corbusier was a revolutionary architect, but not enough emphasis is placed on the harm his rhetoric has caused and continues to cause the profession of architecture and our cities. Perhaps he ended up doing more harm than good.
Andrew Liu
Feb 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Modernist architecture's flagship text; btw, when you become the boss, you would be able to write in such a discursive, fractured and repetitive style without being penalized by painful grad students and perhaps some common readers that tried to grasp your idea.
Mackinley Wang-Xu
Nov 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An architecture student's must-read. While many proposals are considered obsolete, the book introduces a lot of the key ideas and issues that architects must confront. This book is also constantly reference throughout the discipline.
Jack M
Nov 29, 2019 rated it it was ok
I wanted something sophisticated, symmetrical, beautiful, explaining logic, space and lines. These are things I associate with architecture (and naturally, wealth). What I got, was some Swiss asshole advocating suburban sprawl.
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Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris, better known as Le Corbusier; was an architect, designer, painter, urban planner, writer, and one of the pioneers of what is now called modern architecture. He was born in Switzerland and became a French citizen in 1930. His career spanned five decades, with his buildings constructed throughout Europe, India, and America. He was a pioneer in studies of modern high d ...more

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