Le Corbusier And The Brutalist Movement

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Brutalism: Born from the Ashes
Le Corbusier was a strong believer in man’s ability to reinvent and rebuild, and nothing invited the need to rebuild more than World War 1. The Great War was more destructive than any before it - hence the name - with millions of lives lost, vast swathes of land rendered unusable and entire cities obliterated. This gave the Le Corbusier, a young architect-teacher at the time, a very clear mission. He took on his pseudonym after the war - signifying his desire to reinvent himself and the world around him. His work during the war had largely focused on theoretical modernist design, with open floors and external load-bearing columns: this would later be incorporated into his Five Points of architecture (Le Corbusier, 1924). In Rites of Spring, Modris Eksteins points out a strong distaste for decadence and extravagance in the young Le Corbusier (Eksteins, 1989), a view which would strongly influence all his later work. After the war, Le Corbusier would combine both his desire for openness and efficiency with the perspective provided by World War 1 - and later World War 2 - to begin a new architectural movement: Brutalism.
Brutalism was a movement dedicated to the image of strength and function, a staple of Le Corbusier’s philosophy. World War 1 showed Le Corbusier the volatility of architecture,
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Eksteins speaks of vast numbers of people, huge artillery pieces and massive fortifications (Eksteins, 1989). The brutalist elements of Le Corbusier’s architecture are massive, modular buildings, often of drab, almost intimidating appearance. This is unlike his usual open hand philosophy of welcoming architecture, but very much in the spirit of World War 1 (Clement, 2011). Furthermore, due to their efficient, modular design, buildings with brutalist elements tended to be quick and inexpensive to build - perfect for rebuilding cities razed to the

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