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Zaha leaps to Le Corbusier's defence in heated debate

Zaha Hadid has launched a verbal attack on London independent mayoral candidate, John Bird, after he said Le Corbusier was guilty of designing 'shitholes'.

The clash occurred at the Debate London event on 23 June, hosted by the Architecture Foundation at Tate Modern, in which Bird, founder of the Big Issue, insisted Modernist master Le Corbusier knew nothing about the people who would live in his tower blocks.

'Le Corbusier knew about theories but what (his) Unité d'Habitacion in Marseille has been reduced to is a shithole,' said Bird.

'When this template was applied to Alton West Estate in Roehampton it quickly turned into a social morass because he didn't understand the poor. Architects to this day still do not understand the poor,' he continued.

But Hadid, who is designing the London 2012 Aquatics Centre, rebuffed Bird's outburst, stating there was 'crap' in London because 'people like you have no respect for architects'.

Defending Le Corbusier's influence on London social housing, the starchitect said: 'I don't think we should look at an experiment in a particular way of living that we may or may not like and then decide to literally wipe it out along with the invention of Modernity.'

Among those taking part in the debate, staged at London's Tate Modern, were Los Angeles-based architect Fritz Haeg, CABE deputy chair Paul Finch, who chaired the debate, and Tom Coward, co-founder of the AOC.

by Clive Walker

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