Project

Back to overview

Routes of Modernity. Le Corbusier and the Journey to Brazil in 1929: Voyages, Writing, Architecture and Networking

Applicant Moravánszky Ákos
Number 143446
Funding scheme Project funding
Research institution Architekturtheorie Institut gta ETH Zürich
Institution of higher education ETH Zurich - ETHZ
Main discipline Architecture and Social urban science
Start/End 01.10.2012 - 31.01.2016
Approved amount 169'004.00
Show all

All Disciplines (3)

Discipline
Architecture and Social urban science
Swiss history
Visual arts and Art history

Keywords (11)

Architectural History and Theory; Architectural Aesthetics; Cultural Exchanges; Architects' voyages in the Twentieth Century; Le Corbusier (Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris); Avant-garde Artists; Americanism; France; South America (Brazil); Switzerland; 1920-1929

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
The research project investigates one of the most emblematic journeys of the architect Le Corbusier, namely the first trip to South America in 1929, particularly his stay in Brazil, with an understanding that such traveling began before his ‘physical displacement’ to this country.
Lay summary

The main hypothesis argues that Le Corbusier's exchanges with the artistic network in the twenties inspired and affected his ideas of travel, as well as his understanding of Brazil. By looking at the relationships, notions and expectations that Le Corbusier previously built over Brazil, and later confronted on site, are revealed through other lenses. And, the dialogues with several protagonists, in particular with those of the avant-garde milieu in Paris, may have strongly contributed to it. The network that the architect had built in the twenties within this milieu, and the numerous readings which may have contributed to his ideas of the ‘Americas’ become relevant here, in the investigation of Le Corbusier’s voyage to Brazil. Le Corbusier’s achievements are thus not considered in an isolated manner, but as a multifaceted approach.

By evaluating materials – which are held in several Institutions in Switzerland, France and Brazil – as well as new approaches concerning Le Corbusier’s trip to Brazil and his relationship with the artistic milieu; this work shall bring a significant contribution to the current architectural historiographic discourse with respect to Le Corbusier’s concept of travel at the end of the twenties. Consequently, it shall introduce relevant analyses and results to debates on architects’ voyages, as well as to the construction of the notion of travel for the architect in modernity.

Such a theme of the architects’ voyages has indeed become central in the scholarly agenda, as traveling has been not only a constitutive part of the architects’ formative experience since Brunelleschi or Alberti, but also one of our most widespread practices in the present era of globalization.

It is thus not the aim to study a singular figure within the history of architecture, but to grant an attention to fragments that point to a moment of tensions and exchanges between the artistic and the architectural fields in the late twenties; examining, in particular, how the issue of travel is discussed and presented through these exchanges. Through such a study, it is not only possible to ‘re-draw’ Le Corbusier’s trajectory in one of the most critical moments of rupture in the architect’s written production, but also to work across the architectural discussions at that time, placing Le Corbusier in a wider web of reciprocal influences and circulation of ideas; as well as to construct a sense for the fragmented, or even silenced, discourses within the artistic and architectural debates in the late twenties.

 

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 17.01.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Le Corbusier And The Americas: Affinities, Appropriations and Anthropophagy
ORTIZ DOS SANTOS Daniela (2015), Le Corbusier And The Americas: Affinities, Appropriations and Anthropophagy, in Le Corbusier, 50 Years Later International Conference, Universitat Politecnica de Valencia, ValenciaUniversitat Politecnica de Valencia, Valencia.
Espaços, tempos, memórias e arquiteturas. Le Corbusier e Sigfried Giedion
ORTIZ DOS SANTOS Daniela, DA SILVA PEREIRA Margareth (2014), Espaços, tempos, memórias e arquiteturas. Le Corbusier e Sigfried Giedion, in 3rd National Meeting of the Association for Research and Graduate Studies in Architecture, Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie, Sao PauloUniversidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie, Sao Paulo.
Des Histories américaines, des histories du Brésil. In between voyages and words: Le Corbusier and Blaise Cendrars’ exchanges and understandings of Brazil
ORTIZ DOS SANTOS Daniela (2013), Des Histories américaines, des histories du Brésil. In between voyages and words: Le Corbusier and Blaise Cendrars’ exchanges and understandings of Brazil, in Architecture Elective Affinities: correspondences, transfers, inter/multidisciplinarity, Universidade de São Paulo, São PauloFAUUSP, Sao Paulo.
Order is Order is Order. Le Corbusier and the Multiple Orders
ORTIZ DOS SANTOS Daniela (2012), Order is Order is Order. Le Corbusier and the Multiple Orders, in trans magazine, (21), 118-123.
Main amie et main ouverte: échanges épistolaires et voyages utiles sous la plume de Cendrars et de Le Corbusier
Ortiz dos Santos Daniela, Main amie et main ouverte: échanges épistolaires et voyages utiles sous la plume de Cendrars et de Le Corbusier, in Blaise Cendrars en correspondance, Université Sorbonne nouvelle Paris 3, ParisUniversité Sorbonne nouvelle Paris 3, Paris.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Institute of Brazilian Studies, University of São Paulo (IEB, USP) Brazil (South America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Laboratory of Urban Studies/Post-Graduation Program in Urban Design/ Federal Univ. of Rio de Janeiro Brazil (South America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Exchange of personnel
Centre d'études Blaise Cendrars Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Prof. em. Arthur Rüegg/ D-ARCH, ETHZ Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Fondation Le Corbusier (FLC), Paris France (Europe)
- Research Infrastructure

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
Correspondências: Diálogos e Experiências em Pesquisa (in Portuguese) Individual talk Routes of Modernity or the Americas of Le Corbusier 08.06.2017 Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, UFRJ, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Ortiz dos Santos Daniela;
Blaise Cendrars en correspondance Talk given at a conference Main amie et Main ouverte : écrits et histoires croisées entre Blaise Cendrars et Le Corbusier 27.01.2017 Université Sorbonne nouvelle Paris 3, Paris, France Ortiz dos Santos Daniela;
Le Corbusier, 50 Years Later International Conference Talk given at a conference Le Corbusier And The Americas: Affinities, Appropriations and Anthropophagy 18.11.2015 Universitat Politecnica de Valencia, Valencia, Spain Ortiz dos Santos Daniela;
Critical Thinking Session - MAS Urban Design, ETH Zurich Individual talk In Between Travel and Anthropophagy: Le Corbusier, the Favella and the Conquistadores 22.04.2015 ETH Zurich, Switzerland Ortiz dos Santos Daniela;
History of Urban Theories Seminars Individual talk Le Corbusier em questão. Temporalidades, representações e visões de mundo acerca do urbanismo (1922-1933 30.10.2014 Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Ortiz dos Santos Daniela;
3rd National Meeting of the Association for Research and Graduate Studies in Architecture and Urbanism Talk given at a conference Espaços, tempos, memórias e arquiteturas. Le Corbusier e Sigfried Giedion 20.10.2014 Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie, Sao Paulo, Brazil Ortiz dos Santos Daniela;
Doctoral Seminar. Methods in the History of Art and Architecture Individual talk Le Corbusier's Correspondence. A Talk in the gta Archives 16.10.2014 ETH Zurich, Switzerland Ortiz dos Santos Daniela;
Seminar Week "A New City [or] Napoli", guest prof. A. Bucci ETH Zurich Individual talk Corbu Voyageur: Narratives and Representation of Italy 16.03.2014 Albergo Nettuno, Napoli, Italy Ortiz dos Santos Daniela;
Prokalo Seminars. Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture Postgraduate Seminar Series Individual talk Routes of Modernity. Le Corbusier and the Journey to Brazil in 1929 23.04.2013 School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, Edinburg, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Ortiz dos Santos Daniela;
II Meeting of the Urban Studies Laboratory / UFRJ Talk given at a conference Le Corbusier: leitor de Michel de Montaigne (in Portuguese) 01.04.2013 Fundacao Casa de Rui Barbosa, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Ortiz dos Santos Daniela;
Architecture Elective Affinities: correspondences, transfers, inter/multidisciplinarity Talk given at a conference Des Histories américaines, des histories du Brésil. In between voyages and words: Le Corbusier and Blaise Cendrars’ exchanges and understandings of Brazil 21.03.2013 Universidade de Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil Ortiz dos Santos Daniela;
PhD Colloquium organised by Prof. Dr. Á. Moravánszky and Prof. Dr. L. Stalder Talk given at a conference Le véritable Voyage’ 06.03.2013 ETH Zurich, Switzerland Ortiz dos Santos Daniela; Moravánszky Ákos;
3rd Nomad Seminar in Historiography. Narratives of Travel Writing and Architectural History Talk given at a conference Le Corbusier and the Journey to Brazil in 1929 08.11.2012 Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey Ortiz dos Santos Daniela;


Self-organised

Title Date Place
"Traveling through the archives and cities: Le Corbusier in Switzerland and France". Study trip for the scholars of the Univ. Federal do Rio de Janeiro to visit the gta archives ETH Zurich and the Le Corbusier Foundation in Paris 10.06.2014 ETH Zurich, Switzerland
"Traveling through the archives and cities: Le Corbusier in Rio de Janeiro". Study trip for the scholars of the Univ. Federal do Rio de Janeiro to investigate the sites Le Corbusier visited in 1929 17.05.2014 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Knowledge transfer events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Date Place Persons involved
(Lecture in Portuguese) "Le Corbusier em questao. Temporalidades, representacoes e visoes de mundo acerca do urbanismo" Talk 30.10.2014 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Ortiz dos Santos Daniela;
Symposium held in conjunction with MoMA's exhibition Le Corbusier: An Atlas of Modern Landscapes. Title: Le Corbusier New York (event attendance) Performances, exhibitions (e.g. for education institutions) 08.06.2013 Center for Architecture and MoMA, New York, United States of America Ortiz dos Santos Daniela;


Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Talks/events/exhibitions Correspondências: Diálogos e Experiências em Pesquisa (in Portuguese) International 2017
Talks/events/exhibitions (Lecture in Portuguese) "Le Corbusier em questao. Temporalidades, representacoes e visoes de mundo a International 2014

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
136009 Experiments - Architektur zwischen Wissenschaft und Kunst / Architecture between Sciences and the Arts 01.02.2011 Publication grants
116917 Precisions - Architektur zwischen Kunst und Wissenschaft 01.07.2007 Publication grants

Abstract

This research project investigates one of the most emblematic journeys of the architect Le Corbusier, namely his first trip to South America, with a particular focus on his stay in Brazil. While Le Corbusier’s official voyage would begin from Bordeaux in September 1929 on the cruiser Massilia, his real journey began long before this transatlantic crossing. It begins in mid-1920s Paris, a time when Le Corbusier was close with avant-garde figures such as Blaise Cendrars, Fernand Léger and artists from Brazil as Oswald de Andrade, Tarsila do Amaral and Di Cavalcanti. The main hypothesis asserts that his exchanges with this network of artists in the 1920s inspired, influenced and affected Le Corbusier’s ideas of travel, as well as his understanding of Brazil. By looking at the relationships, notions and expectations that Le Corbusier previously built over Brazil, and later confronted on site, are revealed through other lenses.More than just a far and exotic place, Brazil was indeed a distinct moment in time for Le Corbusier - when both his personal expectations for travel and his duties as an architect converged. Le Corbusier appears to give evidence that not only might he have understood what traveling would mean for the modern architect, but that he also began to ‘put this understanding into practice’, as seen through his sketches and notes taken while flying above Rio de Janeiro and onboard the cruiser heading back to Europe. Moreover, his engagement with several actors, particularly those of the avant-garde milieu in Paris, may have further contributed to the development of these ideas. The network that the architect had built within this milieu, the numerous readings which may have affected his ideas of the ‘Americas’ become relevant here, in the investigation of Le Corbusier’s voyage to Brazil.The aim of this study is not to focus on a singular figure within the history of architecture, but rather to examine the tensions and exchanges between the artistic and the architectural fields in the late twenties - especially as the issue of travel is presented through these exchanges. This work considers not only documents produced and collected by Le Corbusier himself, but materials produced by other individuals of the artistic milieu as well, including a set of graphic and iconographic documents published at that time in Brazil and francophone Europe. Le Corbusier specialists such as Arthur Rüegg, Tim Benton and Margareth da Silva Pereira have been central to the development of this research, offering significant contributions to analysis of the material collected as well as calling attention to other sources and approaches that may be relevant.
-