LE CORBUSIER and ILLUMINATION

Post725  -by Gautam Shah

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For Corbusier history of a window was a struggle for illumination. He typically wanted, at least in the initial years, openings to bring outside in. This was due to childhood memories of Northern Europe day lighting, inferior quality of glazing and interior spaces that had small windows and required artificial illumination often during the day time. He, as a cubist saw the glazing plane as an opaque surface slightly receding due to its placement and surface quality.

Corbusier Early Projects

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Glass was a shimmering plane against the dull surface of the structure. He liked the configuration for illumination to be unbroken, and so preferred a separate ventilation system. For the same reason he did not like framing for the window. He would rather place the glazing plane directly into the masonry. This was continued in many of the later buildings like Ronchamp and Shodhan Villa Ahmedabad.

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Corbusier started placing more then adequate openings, like the ribbon windows of Villa Savoy, and invited complaints from the client. The extent openings became more rational in later projects. To cut the excessive glare he began to use an architectural baffle, a brise-soleil, for the first time, in the Algerian office-blocks (1933). Later he experimented with mechanical baffles for an office building in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, but mainly used masonry and cement concrete brise soleil for buildings at Chandigarh and Ahmedabad.

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For him daylight was a living light, continuously variable, whereas the artificial light was static and local. Corbusier experimented with the distribution of daylight by positioning an interior plane adjacent to the window. The planes were first in the form of a right angle wall or ceiling, but later became inclined as well as doubly curved. Slit windows close to flat ceilings were used in many buildings. He began to use the same technique for distributing illumination of electric lights by large parabolic reflectors.

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Corbusier placed openings to frame specific land views as picture windows or often just apertures. Ends of the ramps, stairs, passages, were marked by such openings. Such linking of openings was also used with apertures or cutout in ceilings. These occurred with another smaller or larger cut out below or with a water body to reflect it.

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