Three Reminders To Architects

In this chapter of Corbusier’s Toward An Architecture, he states three main aspects of architecture: Mass, Surface and Plan. I had the chance to read about Mass and Surface.

Mass and surface are the elements by which architecture manifests itself.

Le Corbusier’s statements about mass and surface rely on the works of engineers rather than architects of the time. In fact, he thinks that the architecture of the time should take more references from engineering and the factories of the industrial era. He emphasizes how important it is to use simple geometric forms. He believes these main forms will create more enthusiasm in our minds when we look at the construction. He even says that a cathedral is not a plastic work because it does not make use of the primary forms. He believes that a construction is more beautiful if it is a result of certain calculations and acts as if it is a living organism.

The surface cannot be considered seperately from the mass. Corbu says that a mass is enveloped in its surface. But there should not be a parasital relation between the mass and its surface. They need cooperation. Therefore, it can be said that a surface provides generating and accusing lines of masses.

While focusing mainly on the importance of using primary geometric forms and “creating plastic facts”, as he puts it, Le Corbusier even establishes a comparision between engineers of the day and Bramante or Raphael. He states that the principles that are used in today’s engineering and the role of simple geometry is, in fact, not that different from the works of Bramante, Raphael nor from the Egyptian pyramids and the Parthenon.

This quote from the book sums up Corbu’s opinions on the issue:

The great problems of modern construction must have a geometrical solution.


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