Villa Savoye, by Tony Brady
Could Britain, a country that has perhaps suffered more than most from the unintended effects of his architectural legacy, be falling in love with Le Corbusier? After a successful show at Liverpool's Metropolitan Cathedral last year, and the publication of a enormous retrospective by Phaidon, London is preparing for a season of events celebrating the diminutive, Swiss-born showman, whose name remains for many a byword for everything wrong with post-War housing.
The centrepiece of the season is an exhibition held, appropriately, at the Barbican, called The Art Of Architecture, which opens this Friday, 19th February. The first London-based retrospective on Le Corbusier in 20 years, it aims to be all things to all men: a primer for those unfamiliar with his signature style and most famous buildings, and a novel approach for aficionados or antagonists, emphasising (as the title suggests) Le Corbusier's artistry through a study of his own models, photographs, plans, furniture designs, and films.
Though the architect himself may have disapproved (he once spoke of his preference for drawing over talking, saying that the former "leaves less room for lies"), The Barbican will also host a series of talks and events in conjunction with the exhibition. Discussions on various Le Corbusien topics will be held every Thursday at 19.30, while on Saturdays, Secret Le Corbusier / Secret Barbican, a "walk and talk" session that uncovers some surprising aspects of both the architect's life and the housing estate that bears more than a little of his aesthetic imprint. A series of film and musical events are also planned.
Elsewhere, RIBA will display from March onwards a full-scale replica of the interior of 'Cabanon', the house Le Corbusier built for himself on the Cote d'Azur, along with a display of some of his furniture designs. They will also show a selection of photographs from the Chandigarh Collection, a new photographic study of the furniture designed by Le Corbusier for the eponymous Indian city, most of which is still in use today.
Still not enough? Concrete junkies can get another fix at the V&A, where they're currently showing The Olympic Stadium Project: Le Corbusier And Baghdad in their Architecture rooms, a study of the plans to build a revolutionary Olympic stadium in the late 1950s; the idea never came to fruition, but it bequeathed a number of fascinating designs and drawings.
Le Corbusier: The Art Of Architecture is at the Barbican Art Gallery (map) from 19th February to 24th May. The events at RIBA run from 5th March to 28th April, while The Olympic Stadium Project is at the V&A until March 28th. Tickets to the Barbican show cost £8/£6 concessions, while the latter two are free.