The Faster Times – Young Le Corbusier in Istanbul


In 1911, the last decade of the Ottoman Empire, a young Swiss-French architect visited Istanbul. He sketched as much as he took notes there, in “Stamboul,” capital of the fading Islamic power. Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, better known as Le Corbusier, went on to become the contentious, formative architect and urbanist of the 20th century, credited with ideas like the house as “a machine for living in,” and the primacy of “space and light and order.” Le Corbusier’s travel diary was the first book he wrote and, according to Ivan Zaknic, the translator and editor of the MIT Press edition, “the last he submitted for publication, only a few weeks before his death on August 27, 1975.”

Journey to the East is a catalogue of a pioneering modernist’s first encounter with so-called vernacular architecture, which shaped many of his future buildings – none more than his curving, concrete cathedral at Ronchamp. Which isn’t to say that it reflects the mosques of Istanbul but rather the spiritual power that the young Le Corbusier felt “upon the hilltops of Stamboul [where] the shining white ‘Great Mosques’ swell up and spread themselves out amid spacious courtyards surrounded by neat tombs in lively cemeteries.”

Read the rest at the Faster Times.

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