Document Type

Conference Proceeding

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Published Version

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Journal or Book Title

Proceedings of the 2013 ARCC Spring Research Conference, Architectural Research Centers Consortium, The Visibility of Research

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Conference Title

ARCC 2013 Architectural Research Conference

Conference Date

March 27–30, 2013


Charlotte, NC, United States


Le Corbusier aligned science with Modern movement architecture. At the opening of the Pavillon Suisse in 1933, he was directed by the Pavillon’s president to ‘cover up’ the exposed stone wall in the building’s lounge-dining room. Opposed to the decorative arts, Le Corbusier conceived of a photomural comprised of highly scientific, dramatically enlarged ‘new vision’ views of nature, artistically composed and integrated into the building. The mural imaged science and high technology, metaphorically aligning both with the new architecture. The provincial press understood the mural as propaganda exuding the virtues of high materialism. André Breton praised the mural as an example of ‘concrete irrationality’ that set the ‘object in crisis’. Like beauty, Le Corbusier’s picture of science resided, it seemed, in the eye of the beholder. This paper proceeds by interpreting Le Corbusier’s early works as ‘exhibition’, underscoring notions of propaganda and mobility in Modern movement architecture, and then details the demand for the Pavillion Suisse photomural, its make-up, and the assessment of the mural by the press and by artists. It attempts to illuminate one way of making science visible while underscoring the ambiguity of visual imagery in an age when science carried great authority.


This proceeding is from Proceedings of the 2013 ARCC Spring Research Conference, edited by Chris Jarrett, Kyoung-Hee Kim and Nick Senske (Charlotte: University of North Carolina Charlotte, 2013). Full proceedings are available at Posted with permission.

Copyright Owner

Daniel Naegele



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