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Corb had to grapple with consequences of car

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Tom Muirhead's assertion of the importance of the Futurist stance for Le Corbusier (AJ 1.3.01) must surely be right, but it ought to be possible by now to be more discriminating about his urbanism than simply to refer to it as 'disastrous'.

Muirhead attributes Futurism's influence to the 'big change' in Le Corbusier's urban thinking, from his youthful enthusiasm for Camillo Sitte and the 'traditional street' to the Ville Radieuse.

But this change was also influenced by the desire to accommodate the motor car, something which Sitte was barely conscious of, and did not play much part in Futurist urbanism either - the central railway station was the focus of Sant'Elia's attention.

By the early 1920s, however, the significance of the car had become apparent - at least to Le Corbusier, who sought to grapple with the consequences, which he believed included the obsolescence of the 'corridor (or traditional) street'.

Le Corbusier's urban ideas were an extension, as he himself stressed, of his architecture. The aspiration to 'light, space, and greenery' that permeated the design of his houses, also determined the shape of his cities. It is impossible to assess the one without the other.

James Dunnett, James Dunnett Architects, London N1

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