Le Corbusier and the Maisons Jaoul
Caroline Maniaque Benton
Publication date 7/1/2009
7.5 x 11 inches (19.1 x 27.9 cm), Hardcover
176 pages, 122 color illustrations, 100 b/w illustrations
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In 1955, just as the world was pigeonholing him as the high priest of modernism, Le Corbusier shocked the architecture world with--of all things--weekend houses. Built of brick, concrete, stone, and timber, the Maisons Jaoul are the antithesis of everything commonly referred to as "Corbusian." Their surprising scale gives them a magnificent sculptural presence and the uncharacteristically raw materiality of their exteriors--oozing mortar, rough brick--gives them a deliberately crude, almost craftlike, appearance. Le Corbusier himself never explained this radical change in direction, leaving this design a mystery for future generations to decipher.
Le Corbusier and the Maisons Jaoul is the first book-length, detailed examination of these lesser-known, yet architecturally significant houses. Built for Andre Jaoul and his son--and their wives--the Maisons Jaoul encompassed four years of intense design activity. Using previously unpublished sources, author Caroline Maniaque Benton thoroughly captures Le Corbusier's extraordinary journey of discovery. Valuable insights are gleaned from conversations between clients, draughtsmen, and craftsmen; firsthand documents; and letters in Le Corbusier's own hand. The Maisons Jaoul emerge as both a fundamental reconsideration of domestic living and a radical reassessment of Le Corbusier's longstanding commitment to modernism. Opening up his process to collaboration with a Corsican carpenter and a Sardinian mason brought warmth, texture, and a distinct aura of vernacular authenticity to the houses.
Le Corbusier and the Maisons Jaoul brings all of the mythic grandeur of these exciting discoveries to life through rare photographs, drawings, ephemera, and plans, and invites those who either admire or dismiss Le Corbusier to reexamine their assumptions and prejudices about the most famous modern architect of the twentieth century.
Dr. Caroline Maniaque Benton is an architect who was trained in Fine Art and in Art History. She has spent many years in the United State researching domestic architecture in the 1950s and the impact of the counter culture on French visiting architects. She teaches history of architecture at the Ecole Nationale Superieure d'Architecture Paris-Malaquais. She lives in Paris. She worked for four years as a curator and researcher at the Pompidou Center. She has taught at the Bard Graduate center in NY in 2003 and 2007 and is currently a visiting scholar at the Canadian Center for Architecture (CCA) in Montreal. She will be teaching at Williams College in the Spring of 2009. Professor Maniaque's book was originally published in French as Le Corbusier et les maisons Jaoul by Editions A. et J. Picard in 2005.
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The Daily Icon:
"The book is the first detailed examination of a lesser-known, yet architecturally significant house. Filled with detailed drawings, plans, rare photographs, and indeed even a glimse of the contents of the house and the type of furnishings installed. The book ends with the critical reception by the houses, mainly in the British and American press during the 1950s and 60s.Le Corbusier himself never explained this radical change in direction, leaving this design a mystery for future generations to decipher. The book is a welcome addition to the study of this well-known architect but will certainly pose the question: Perhaps Le Corbusier is not a modernist after all?"
"These Jaoul houses were a departure from Le Corbusier's signature modernist style, as they exhibit a rawness about them, almost crude and craftlike. The author has included a wide variety of documents and ephemera (letters, umpteen sketches, drawings and photos), as well as fragments of conversation that make this book a fascinating window into architectural and social history. This will be a hit with fans of Le Corbusier and anyone with a passion for architectural detail."
Omni Personal Shopper: The Architecture Student, Shelfari:
"...as well as a gem from the consistently fabulous Princeton Architectural Press, Le Corbusier and the Maisons Jaoul: Le Corbusier designed very few personal homes, but the Maisons Jaoul was an exception. He was close friends with the family. This book documents in great detail the entire creative and building process of two houses for a father and son. A fascinating look behind the scenes of the creation of a masterpiece of domestic architecture and an unexpectedly intimate work by the great guru of industrial apartment blocks."
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