The legacy of blueprints and sketches by Le Corbusier, one of the most influential and admired architects of the 20th century, will become accessible from you desktop next year.

“Le Corbusier Plans,” a digital archive of 16 DVDs, containing all 35,000 of his blueprints and sketches, will be released next year. The digital archive, based on the original drawings kept at Fondation Le Corbusier in Paris, covers the Swiss architect’s 194 projects dating from 1905 through to 1965.

Le Corbusier (1887-1965), pioneered functional architecture and developed the concept of the home as a “machine for living.” His famous pieces include Villa Sovoye in Poissy and Unite d’Habitation in Marseilles. He also designed the United Nations Building in New York and the National Museum of Western Art in Tokyo’s Ueno.

The first volume of the digital archive four DVDs covering the period of 1905-29 will be put on sale at Maruzen and other major bookstores in March 2005. A second, covering the years 1930-49 is due out in October 2005 and the third and fourth, covering the years 1949-52 and 1952-65 will be published in March and December 2006 respectively. The individual volumes will be 200,000yen each, the advance price for all four is 700,000yen.

“Until now, researchers have had to search the 32-volume ‘Le Corbusier Archive’ published in 1982 and locate what they were looking for. If they wanted to look at the details, they had to go to Paris. There, even famous experts were not allowed to see the original drawings. Only microfilms were available,” said Yasunari Shimoda, head of Glass Map Co., who is the producer of the digital archiving team.

“The foundation has been facing a problem with the deterioration of the original drawings. So, in 2001, we proposed digital archiving to preserve Le Corbusier’s legacy for posterity.”

Katsutoshi Yamazaki, head of Maps Co., also involved in the digitalization project, said that it was not only Japan’s advanced digital technology but also the fact that half of the visitors to the foundation are Japanese that led to outsourcing the project to Japanese firms.

The DVDs use three languages Japanese, English and French and contain essays by experts about Le Corbusier’s major projects as well as carrying photographs and thumbnails for each. On the DVD it will be possible to compare several drawings at once on screen as well as printing out the original drawings on A4 sheets.

“Thanks to high resolution, which is up to 88 million pixels per drawing, blueprints and sketches can be blown up to see details and tiny numerals that were put on the drawings,” Shimoda said.

The photography work which goes on in the foundation’s not-so-large basement, requires use of a distortionless super-wide-angle lens. To avoid pattern moire (a watery effect), a multi-shot digital camera is used.

Shimoda said that there are also plans to make digital archives of such architects as Auguste Perret, Carlo Scarpa, Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe and Louis Kahn.

“Blueprints and sketches are the very things creators want to see. Looking at the original drawings is the ideal research approach,” Shimoda said.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.