Polytechnic University of Valencia Congress, LC2015 - Le Corbusier, 50 years later

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On Diagonal Time in Le Corbusier’s Visual Arts Center
Michael Jasper

Last modified: 10-11-2015


Abstract: This paper introduces the concept of diagonal time as an interpretive category for understanding composition strategies and spatial effects in certain projects of Le Corbusier. It is organized around two propositions: first, there is a largely untheorised temporality created in certain works of modernist architecture and those of Le Corbusier in particular; second, this temporality can be characterized as one not bound to a vision in motion nor does it require a body’s movement to gain presence. In order to test these propositions the paper undertakes a formal analysis of Le Corbusier’s Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, Massachusetts (1960-1964). The Visual Arts Center’s apparent reliance on movement for its coming into being is interrogated by focusing on other devices and strategies. Four such strategies are explored: oblique and transverse form relationships, expressive volumes, figure/ground ambiguities, and voided centres. Building on the archival and critical-historical work of Curtis and Sekler, the paper advances a line of inquiry into modernist architecture’s trajectory only alluded to in secondary scholarship, contributes to understanding key formal elements in an important building from Le Corbusier’s late period, and addresses a major conference theme, that of the transversal.


Keywords: architecture; composition; Le Corbusier; space; temporality; Visual Arts Center.


DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4995/LC2015.2015.647

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