Le Corbusier’s Practical Aesthetic of the City : The treatise ‘La Construction des villes’ of 1910/11 book cover
1st Edition

Le Corbusier’s Practical Aesthetic of the City
The treatise ‘La Construction des villes’ of 1910/11

  • Available for pre-order on December 19, 2022. Item will ship after January 9, 2023
ISBN 9780367528355
January 9, 2023 Forthcoming by Routledge
536 Pages 212 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Set within an insightful analysis, this book describes the genesis, ideas and ideologies which influenced La Construction des Villes by Le Corbusier. This volume makes the important theoretical work available for the first time in English, offering an interpretation as to how much and in what way his ‘essai’ may have influenced his later work.

Dealing with questions of aesthetic urbanism, La Construction des Villes shows Le Corbusier’s intellectual influences in the field of urbanism. Discontent that the script was not sufficiently avant-garde, he abandoned it soon after it was written in the early 20th century. It was only in the late 1970s that American historian H. Allen Brooks discovered 250 pages of the forgotten manuscript in Switzerland. The author of this book, Christoph Schnoor, later discovered another 350 handwritten pages of the original manuscript, consisting of extracts, chapters, and bibliographic notes. This splendid find enabled the re-establishment of the manuscript as Le Corbusier had abandoned it, unfinished, in the spring of 1911.

This volume offers an unbiased extension of our knowledge of Le Corbusier and his work. In addition, it reminds us of the urban design innovations of the very early 20th century which can still serve as valuable lessons for a new understanding of contemporary urban design.

Table of Contents

Discovering the aesthetics of the city


Chapter 1: Jeanneret’s reading and work on the Manuscript

The task: a study of urban design

Taking stock of the material

The work in its latest form: Jeanneret’s final table of contents

To Munich

Mid-April 1910: Approaching the material

An attempt to date Cahier City II Bridges

Jeanneret studies Sitte’s Städtebau

Gathering material in Munich’s libraries

The urban design exhibition in Berlin

What would be the scope of the study?

Some bibliographical details

La Chaux-de-Fonds: Editing the Manuscript

One final month in Munich: Green space in the city

Cemeteries and garden cities

At Behrens’ studio: No time for urban design

Spring 1911: Big plans and a Laugier excerpt


Chapter 2: The material in detail

Proposition and General Considerations

Proposition – the collective and the universal genius

General Considerations – the situation of urban design circa 1900

Les Eléments constitutifs de la ville – The Elements of the City


Des Chésaux – On Blocks

Des Rues – On Streets

Des Places – On Squares

On Squares in Cahiers C.7 and C.8

Murs de clôture – On Enclosing Walls

The unfinished chapters: Green elements in the city

Des Ponts – On Bridges

Des Arbres – Trees as sculptural elements in the city

Des Jardins et Parcs – On Gardens and parks

Des Cimetières – The architectural possibilities of cemeteries

Des Cités-jardins – On Garden cities

Des moyens possibles – On Possible Strategies

Application Critique – La Chaux-de-Fonds: A case study


Chapter 3: 1911 to 1925 – Towards urbanism

The Laugier excerpt as a turning point

Why was La Construction des villes not published?

Urban aesthetics versus the Voyage d’Orient

France ou Allemagne? Reasons against publication

La Construction des villes and Urbanisme


Curved or straight streets revisited

The residential block

Public spaces in the city


Chapter 4: Conclusion

The malerisch versus the monumental

Urban space

Beauté and utilité

The architectural garden and the garden city

A somewhat stupid book, "un livre un peu idiot"?


La Construction des villes: The manuscript


Part I, Chap. I General Considerations

§1 Purpose of this study

§2 General Principles

§3 The present state of the debate

§4 A fundamental present-day error


Part I, Chap. II The Elements of the City

§1 Introduction

§2 On Blocks

§3 On Streets

§4 On Squares, I

§4 On Squares, II

§5 On Enclosing Walls

§6 Material for On Bridges

§7 Material for On Trees

§8 Material for On Gardens and Parks

§9 Material for On Cemeteries

§10 Material for On Garden Cities


Part I, Chap. III On Possible Strategies


Part II Critical Application: La Chaux-de-Fonds


Appendix: Material for Critical Application, II


Materials: Notebooks

Notebook C.2 – City II Bridges

Cahier C.3 – Cities III (Materials for Blocks, Streets and Squares)

Cahier C.11 – City J Theodor Fischer (Berlin, October 1910)

Cahier C.12 – Roland Fréart (Berlin, October 1910)

Cahier C.13 – Laugier (Berlin, January to March 1911)



Tables of contents, overviews

Overview table of contents for ‘On Squares’


Bibliographic Notes

Cahiers: Title Pages



List of illustrations

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Dr Christoph Schnoor is Associate Professor at Unitec Institute of Technology in Auckland, New Zealand. Having published extensively on modernist architecture, with specific focus on the work of Le Corbusier and architectural critique by Colin Rowe, his intellectual biography on Austrian émigré architect Ernst Plischke has been published in 2020.

Translated by Kim Sanderson.