One of the interests I developed quickly during my undergraduate studies at Texas A&M was a love of books. There's something about architects and books. There's even a book about architects and their books. One of my favorite free time activities during those first years of school was to visit the central campus library and see what interesting architecture books I could find, check out, and peruse (while trying not to drool on the pages). One evening, amid the library stacks, I came across Le Corbusier's "Oeuvre Complete"...and it was over. I was instantly hooked.
"Oeuvre Complete" is an 8 volume hardbound set of virtually every project and building completed by the French architect Le Corbusier. Corbusier is considered one of the masters of International Style Modernism that occurred at the turn of the 20th century. His work has become a staple of architecture schools worldwide. Students study his work repeatedly in history class and design studios. I went through every volume of that set, one by one, visually devouring every image and every word on every page. Many years later, after visiting some of his buildings and practicing as a professional, I can still say that I find Corbusier's work interesting and intriguing.
Now I teach high school architecture...and I get to pass along my enthusiasm for Le Corbusier. Last year in our Advanced Architecture Studio, my students designed a house based on the use of a nine-square grid. This project was a natural fit for introducing Le Corbusier, so our research was based on an investigation of his career and work. Using this strategy gave my students a focused history lesson within the context of gathering tools and information to apply to their projects. As part of this research, students developed three-dimensional representations of Corbusier's "Five Points of a New Architecture"...
...parti diagrams of his buildings...
...as well as a timeline of his life and career. You can see the full web page of the students' research here. Once they had information on Corbusier, they were able to take what they had learned and apply it to their own projects. I think we had some really interesting results:
As a teacher, I always hope that my students find the work I present them interesting and useful. This summer, we had two students attend UT Arlington's Architecture Seed Camp. I was able to be there the final day of camp to see the presentation of their work. As I was milling about the space in the Architecture building, I could see Corbusier's influence in the college work that the University had on display. When visiting with one of my students about her experience at camp, she told me "the instructors started talking about Le Corbusier, and I totally knew what they were talking about!"
Thank you Mr. Corbusier, for giving me something great to share.