chapter  4
16 Pages

Mediterranean Dialogues Le Corbusier, Fernand Pouillon, and Roland Simounet


In August 1931, at the end of a two­month tour of Spain, Morocco, and Algeria, Le Corbusier created a series of drawings from the Governor General Chanzy, the boat that was to take him from Algiers to Marseille on his way back to Paris. As the boat pulled out of the harbor in Algiers and into Mediterranean waters, Le Corbusier sketched successive views of the city as its recognizable panorama faded from view. In the first of these drawings, the broad outlines of the city’s landscape emerge from the distinctive arcades lining the port of Algiers (figure 4.2). The outlines of select landmarks defined the city’s skyline, each clearly labeled in the drawing: the Citadel (where the Fort l’Empereur stood), the Casbah, the Governor’s Palace, and the Marine Quarter. Each of the six successive sketches further distilled the essential outlines of the city as it receded further towards the horizon, even as the architect began defining the rough outlines of new buildings within the abstracted silhouette of the existing city. As Jean­Pierre Giordani has shown, this series of drawings defined the distinctive physiognomy of Algiers that Le Corbusier subsequently used as the conceptual and representational foundation of his new urban plans for the city.1