The Corbusian suspended garden: a fragment of nature converted into architecture

María Candela Suárez

Resumo


In Le Corbusier’s work it is possible to tie the projects to common factors. One of these is the series of residential single-family homes and multiple families homes or apartments, which share one element of formal spatial function: the suspended garden. These elements act as an air capsule that transforms the limit of the façade, by dilating the transition between the public and the private, interior and exterior, architecture and nature. In this paper I refer to Le Corbusier in relation to the nature, which he referred to as the “antagonist”. I enquire into the genesis of the suspended garden – a connector of space used by Le Corbusier to connect himself with “the antagonist”, or the natural greenspace. To reinforce the ideas about the suspended garden, I offer some latent references to interior/exterior space that, even if they are not a consciously recreated by Le Corbusier, they are “reactive,” useful to reveal some attributes either formal, spatial or symbolic – that could form part of his intentions f the project. One of the references, already remarked by other authors, is the Cartusian monastery cells. Another are the gardens of Balkan houses, the medieval enclosed gardens, and the Persian paradise garden.

(…) How does Le Corbusier create a suspended garden? Once again, his travel to the Orient in 1911, results in clarification of interpretations of the concrete aspects of Le Corbusier’s work. The Balkan houses, for example, manifest Le Corbusier’s interest in the relation of those houses with private patios closed to the gaze of passers-by with blind walls. Le Corbusier qualified this situation as a “nice coexistence between humanity and Nature”. In the Balkan houses, as in the Cartusian cells (fig. 4a), we realize that the garden is always at the ground level or maybe raised a little, and doesn’t have any roof other than the sky, which makes the visual connection vertical. In the Immeuble-villas (fig. 4b), placed one on top of the other, the gardens located at ground level are consequently suspended in relation to the street. That could be the genesis for Le Corbusier to design suspended gardens in the later single-family houses. By other side, the natural stacking of apartments results in suspended gardens which end up covered by the apartment above like a seed pod, an “air capsule” limited by five of six faces which reduces (but does not eliminate) the vertical view and strengthens the horizontal view. The concept of “suspended garden” and “encapsulated garden” comes from Le Corbusier.(…)

(…) It is inevitable to discover that all the sacred or profane description of the medieval enclosed garden is equally valid to illustrate the suspended gardens from the single-family houses of Le Corbusier: Le plaisir du jardin vient de la régularité de son ordonnancement alliée à la diversité des sensations qu’il procure. Le regard y saisit des espaces limités, sans jeux de perspective [ni ouvertures sur de vastes horizons]. L’on ne cherche pas à intégrer le jardin dans le paysage : son caractère ortement architecturé en fait plutôt une chambre de verdure au sens propre du terme, un prolongement de la demeure […] From these and other definitions of the medieval enclosed garden another characteristic appears, which is the conception as a patio room, the chambre d’été (summer-room). Because of its strongly architectural character, the medieval enclosed garden is a room impregnated of vegetation, and in the proper term, an extension of the dwelling. Isn’t this the way Le Corbusier conceived the suspended gardens? (…)


Keywords

Le Corbusier, Nature, Suspended garden, Genesis.


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