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

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Le Corbusier’s Cité de Refuge: historical & technological performance of the air exacte
Luis Manuel Diaz, Ryan Southall

Last modified: 12-11-2015


Abstract: Despite a number of attempts by Le Corbusier to implement the combination of ‘respiration exacte’ with the ‘mur neutralisant’ he was never able to test the viability of his environmental concepts in a realised building. The Cité de Refuge, which was built with a more conventional heating system and single glazed facade, is however unique in that unlike the other potential candidates for the implementation of these systems, the building, as built, retained a key design feature, i.e. the hermetically sealed skin, which ultimately contributed to the building’s now infamous failure. It is commonly argued that Le Corbusier, however, abandoned these comprehensive technical solutions in favour of a more passive approach, but it is less well understood to what extent technical failures influenced this shift. If these failures were one of the drivers for this change, how the building may have performed with the ‘respiration exacte’ and ‘mur neutralisant’ systems becomes of interest. Indeed, how their performance may have been improved with Le Corbusier's later modification of a brise-soleil offers an alternative hypothetical narrative for his relationship to technical and passive design methodologies.


Keywords: environment, technology, performance, history, Cité de Refuge


DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4995/LC2015.2015.796

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