The limelight of the house-machine

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8 Citations (Scopus)


Recent scholarly work on the subject of vision and visuality has set the task for architectural historians to re-examine the dialectics of seeing and construction beyond the context of modernism. Equally important is to renew one's understanding of the 'perspective regime' at a time when the visual, as experienced in contemporary culture, is saturated with the technologies of image-making. In this paper Le Corbusier's Dom-ino frame is used as a case study to test the architectonic implications of the linear perspective. Underlining Leon Battista Alberti's distinction between lineaments and building, it is suggested perspectivism initiated a design process that projects a three dimensional object out of a two dimensional plan. It also opens a window, through which architecture is seen from a vanishing point, which frames the frontal façade as a painterly image whose surface is articulated by what Le Corbusier called the 'regulating lines'. Through a reading of the Villa Savoye, it is argued that the Dom-ino frame presented the chance for Le Corbusier not only to rearticulate the classical distinction between 'appearance' and 'construction', but also to suspend the idea of frontality. Looking back from the vantage point of the present architects' interest in spectacular forms, it is suggested that Le Corbusier's early work paved the path for contemporary architects' drift into abstraction thus marginalising the tectonic and tactile aspects of construction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-79
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Architecture
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


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