They both had dreams of social housing, but one was much more realistic.

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They both had dreams of social housing, but one was much more realistic. Michael de Klerk realized his dream when Eigen Haard was built. His vision was a lot clearer than Le Corbusier’s and even included a post office for working class that was planned to inhabit this building. Het Schip served as a piece of the resistance and wanted no parts of the revolution Corbu mentions later on.

The vison Le Corbusier had with His Voisin plan was a vision of a utopian society, it was also called the radiant city, but he also planned to destroy many older buildings which made up the history of Paris to build it instead of incorporating it into the pre-existing fabric like Michael de Klerk. His ideas were much more revolutionary and conceptual so some of them never came to fruition but the direction he was going in was the direction society was going and we ended adapting a lot of these same ideas like the green spaces and pedestrian only area for safety. Michael set out to make something more traditional and succeeded more people agreed with his vision at that time while Corbu had great ideas he just didn’t have the right approach and trying to destroy historical buildings didn’t help.

An honest design is a design that isn’t trying to hide anything like with the capsule towers we were told from the start this is temporary housing so no surprises later on. Honest design doesn’t try to make something more valuable than it actually is and shows respect towards the user by being authentic, no one is trying to manipulate the consumer with promises that can’t be kept.

Recently honesty and authenticity has grown in importance and value when a designer wants to provide a sense of integrity within a space the intention of their ideas are displayed you can feel their intentions and this sense of honesty can apply to a range of topics from the material a building uses to the concept behind the design. We tend to trust designers more when they don’t try to hide anything because everything down to how it was made is important to consumers.

Providing a building with its own identity that’s easy to understand is one of the biggest factors. When you can understand the space, you’re in you have a better connection to the building. Capsule towers as a project led with honesty in its intentions and its design. It had a clear primary function and was able to relate to the cultural identity of Japan. The people accepted the prefabricated towers and how cheap and easy they were to build and embraced that as a concept, they were ready to take the next step in industrialization. Even going a little further back that same industrialization impacted the speed at which we could build this made that sense of permanence architecture had irrelevant because we could build destroy and build something new in its place in such a small amount of time, with industrialization we were living in age of fast food buildings because they were so quick and cheap to produce.

The values of honest design are still very relevant because no one wants to feel like they’ve been manipulated. Even with everything being exposed and on full display designers are still finding ways to withhold information, so they aren’t blatantly lying. Honesty is still relevant because how of we fell about certain designs and practices. We would love to have that LEED certification and use recycled material in our new condos even if the actual impact is negligible because it makes us feel better and this is honest design in 2020.

When Le Corbusier said that the choice was between Architecture and Revolution, he couldn’t see a world where you had pleasing aesthetics with something that was so formulaic. He wasn’t seeing the benefits at that time, so it was one or the other for him even when looking at Villa Contemporaine it’s a utopia in a functionalist’s world. It serves a purpose, its efficient, but its formulaic so going back to the quote maybe this was his choice and this large-scale revolution was necessary to further architecture, because in 1920 architecture in Paris wasn’t seen at the same scale as the Voisin Plan and Le Corbusier made the choice to change that by increasing the scale at any costs.

Choosing between Architecture and Revolution isn’t just the choice between creativity or prefabricated designs its making the decision to follow the beaten path or blaze a new trail and luckily in 1920 Le Corbusier had to make the decision to make a new path us to follow. He always thought that revolution could be avoided but it’s something that was necessary, and architecture of large housing complexes was inevitable in his mind. Once we figured out how efficiently we could make structures during the industrial revolution it was one beat after another until we ended up with these perfectly engineered and cheap spaces. This fast and cheap design style and a bit of social unrest led to modernism after World War I. Architecture at that time even paid respect to the fascist revolution because it had a great influence over the world in general. All of this is what led to the choice between architecture and revolution Le Corbusier and what his intentions were behind it.


1. Good as far as it goes. The question asks about the social vision – what are the qualities of social life that each plan proposes? Look at how the buildings place families in relation to each other. What would it be like to live there? Het Schip invited people to see and engage each other within the shared spaces of the building. Le Corbusier offered only completely private apartments or completely public parks, no in-between spaces.

2. The question asked how early modernists interpreted “honesty” as a value. From will-to-form, to Adolf Loos’ expression of materials, to Victor Horta decorative expression of electricity.

3. Some misunderstanding here – Le Corbusier says that industrialization – including factory work and leisure time – have changed life, therefore old houses no longer fit modern people. We must modernize architecture or people will revolt.

Prompt Questions

What is ‘honest’ design? How did a desire for honesty shape design at the turn of the century. Is it still relevant?

Le Corbusier said that the choice in the 1920s was between Architecture and Revolution? What did he mean?

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