Crystal Bridges exhibit “Architecture at Home” showcases five visions. 

The business of architecture is to establish emotional relations by means of raw materials. -- Le Corbusier, "Towards a New Architecture," 1931

BENTONVILLE -- "A house is just a pile of stuff with a cover on it," George Carlin once suggested. If we didn't have stuff we wouldn't need them.

A house is also a claim set forth, a declaration that we belong to a society -- that we live here. It's also an asset, tangible real property, a repository of wealth. Just check Zillow or Redfin.

Le Corbusier, the pseudonym of Swiss-born architect and city planner Charles-Edward Jenneret-Gris, once famously decided a "house was a machine for living in." That sounds like a smart thing to say until you realize that a machine is a physical system with moving parts that applies power to perform a specific function. To say a house is a machine for living in makes about as much sense as saying a shoe is a machine for stepping in.

But Le Corbusier -- the name is a variation of his grandfather's surname, and roughly translates as "the crowlike one," which is funny when you look at old photographs of the architect -- wasn't a stupid or pretentious man. What he meant when he wrote "a house is a machine for living in" is that a house should work as a machine, in that it should make living easier. He meant that a house exists to make life better.


Posted on September 16, 2022, by Philip Martin, Texarkana Gazette