Le Corbusier Algiers Plans

Marco Venturi

The involvement of Le Corbusier with Algiers begins in 1931, when he is invited to a conference about the future of the city. He then travelled around, absorbing a lot of suggestions, which will strongly influence his future activity. One and a half year later he presents, without having a client, the first of a series of projects, the "Obus", probably the most influential scheme of the modern town planning history. In the following years he produces many proposals, B&C in ´33-´34, D&E in 1939, progressively reducing the scale of the intervention and concentrating on the architectural solutions for the business district centre. All the projects were rejected.
The war marks a turning point. In the month of October 1940 Le Corbusier leaves his office in Paris and, while Pierre Jeanneret and other collaborators join the resistence, he looks for the possibility of realising some projects, working with the Petain government. In January 1941 he gets a temporary appointment a registration as an architect, even without Beaux Arts degrees. In his capacity of influential member of the Comite´d´études de l´Habitation et de la Construction Immobiliere, he proposes a building policy centred on seven exemplary works, first of the list a plan for Algiers. In June 1941 he flew to Algeria, where, with the local knowledges of Emery and Miquel, he begins the redaction of a new scheme, finished a month later in Vichy.
This plan differs from the previous ones for the translation of the centre from the Quartier de la Marine to the Bastion XV, in the french quarters. The new centre is a civic institution more than an administrative one, and foresees the creation of a centre for the Muslims. Satellite towns and a natural reserve park have to be created outside of the city limits of 4 km., for heavy industry and recreation. Y-shaped housing units, no more connected each other, are doted with brise-soleil as equivalent to the local loggia. The huge viaduct is replaced by highways embracing the city.
The plan was presented the 23rd of April 1942 as Plan Directeur, suite a´la séance du 16 juin 1941- and consisted of three plans at the scale 1:20.000 for different stages of development, 1942-1955 and 1980 (this final one), a general 1:12.600 and a report. The drawings were thought lost in the indipendence war, but were just misdirected in the local archives.
On the 12th June 1942 the plan was rejected unanimously by the local council "en tant que projet essentiellement communal il n´est pas souhaitable de tenter une expérience aussi aléatoire sur un périmètre aussi considérable. Décide en conséquence de rejeter le projet presente´par monsieur Le Corbusier. Adopte´a´l´unanimite´".
Le Corbusier asked till November 1942 the Petain government to bypass the municipality's Decisions, but left Vichy for Paris already in July 1942