The City of Tomorrow
This is a translation of the eighth edition of Urbanisme, a landmark work in the development of modern city planning. It was so recognized when it first appeared in English in 1929. A review in the Nation stated that “Le Corbusier ranks with Freud, Picasso, and Einstein as a leading genius of our time. The only great architect alive, he has turned his attention from the individual house to town-planning. And the result is 'The City of Tomorrow', a book not for the aesthetes but for statesmen.”
At the same time, Edgar Johnson wrote in the New York Evening Post that “M. Le Corbusier's extremely important book is an analysis of the problem of the city and a solution. It sidesteps none of the issues, admits the inevitable growth in population, the need for speed and centralization, and provides a reasoned and thorough overcoming of the difficulties. This book is, both practically and artistically, a work of vision.”
The book was one of the first to recognize an approaching “urban crisis,” and its main thesis is that such a vast and complicated machine as the modern great city can only be made to function adequately on the basis of strict order, that we must aim first of all at efficiency but that it must lead us on to a fine and noble architecture. Le Corbusier raises questions in this work that are still being raised today. He concludes from his study that the whole urban scene is one of wasted opportunities and inefficiency. He proposes an alternative course which is a bold and drastic reconstruction of the entire machine.
Le Corbusier presents in this work two schemes for the reconstruction of a modern city. One is the “Voisin” plan for the center of Paris and the other is his more developed plans for the “City of Three Million Inhabitants.” In both these schemes he adopts skyscrapers as his most important units, but they are set at immense distances from one another and are surrounded by large open spaces or parks. They are allocated to commercial, not residential purpose; the greater tenement houses and other buildings will remain relatively low in height. The plans included in the book demonstrate clearly the scope and general appearance of the reconstruction that Corbusier proposes.