LE CORBUSIER'S MUSEUMS
AHMADABAD, TOKYO, CHANDIGARH
"The Architectural Work of Le Corbusierh (17 works in 7 countries), in the UNESCO's World Heritage Sites List, includes the National Museum of Western Art in Tokyo, which was designed based on the concept of the 'Museum for Unlimited Growth' along with the Government Museum of Chandigarh and the Sanskar Kendra Museum in Ahmadabad, which was the first built among the three. I will concisely explain here this concept Le Corbusier created.
Although the start of the 'museum for unlimited growth' is often said to have been the megalomaniac scheme of the pyramidal eMuseum for the World Cognitionf in the project of the eMundaneumf (the central facility of a kind of United Nations) by Le Corbusier in 1928, this is a sharply different concept, which gives an impression of a squared eTower of Babelf, painted by Pieter Brueghel, without being based on the theme of egrowthf.
The concept of going up first to the top by elevator or a flight of stairs, and then going down the spiral exhibition rooms is rather close to the case of the later Guggenheim Museum in New York, and its pyramidal figure is monumental, far from eno facadef.
Left: Roof plan of the Musée Mondial in the Mundaneum Project
The archetype of the eMuseum for Unlimited Growthf was the Contemporary Art Museum in Paris, which was a proposition in the form of an epistle to Christian Zervos, the editor of gCahiers dfArth in 1931, published in Le Corbusierfs chronological gOeuvre Complèteh vol.2 (1929-1934), Zurich.
Even if there is not enough of a budget in the beginning, one can start with a minimum portion of the building in a field in the suburbs of Paris, successively enlarging it in a spiral order, gradually toward a full-scale museum. One does not care about its temporal figure in the process, having no facade or an invisible facade. How drastic a proposition it is!
The term eMusée à Croissance Illimitéef (Museum for Unlimited Growth) first came on the stage for eUn Centre d'Esthétique Contemporaine à Parisf (Contemporary Art Center in Paris), as eProject Ce for the International Exhibition in Paris in 1937, which was published in his hOeuvre Complèteh vol.3 (1934-38). In that project he abandoned the approach through an underground passage and instead let visitors normally go to the central hall from the entrance. All exhibition rooms were lifted upstairs, letting visitors go up from the central hall to the 2nd floor through a U-turn ramp, and spirally tour the rooms that were extendable yet still spiraling.
In current Skikda, having been called Philppeville (the town of Louis Philippe) in colonial times, Le Corbusier designed the town hall (1932) and the central railway station (1937) in collaboration with Charles de Montalant, though not in a modern style but in a traditional style. He might have proposed the museum to the government in relation with those edifices.
However, even when it is really extended, it might be by only one or two circles of the spiral at most, therefore the term eunlimitedf is Le Corbusierfs journalistic exaggerated catchphrase. I think it might be better to call it simply egrowing museumf or eextendable museumf.
The reason for the facades of these museums not being formative and lacking plasticity as Le Corbusierfs works is his intent to make eno facadef since those front walls would be concealed by new exhibition rooms and become simple partitions when the museums would be spirally extended.
As the National Museum of Western Art in Tokyo had been cramped, a new wing was erected in 1979 to augment exhibition space, but it was not the spiral extension but an independent annex in the rear, northern side. The museum has not yet grown spirally even up to now, which indicates the complete denial of the idea of eMuseum for Unlimited Growthf by Le Corbusier as the architect, that is, the recognition of this museum as a cardinal failure.
It is quite strange to inscribe this museum in such a state to the UNESCO World Heritage List as a piece of eLe Corbusierfs Architectural Workf. Were the purpose of the organization and people, who had carried on the campaign for its registration, not to honor the spirit and art of Le Corbusier but merely inscribe it to the celebrated UNESCO World Heritage List to augment revenue from tourism?
Heaps of earth with trees planted upon them seem excessive in the front garden. It should be recovered to its original square-like state, as inscribed to UNESCO as an architectural work of Le Corbusier. It is also better to move the museum shop to the annex or underground hall.
( 01/08/2017 )