Urbanism. Six drawings by Le Corbusier (1934) 

During the conference on the subject «Urbanism» at Milan’s Circolo filologico in the evening of June 19th of 1934 Le Corbusier carried out six big drawings (coloured chalks on paper, cm 165x240) which he then gave to Piero Bottoni. These are an extract of Le Corbusier’s town planning vision in the phase of its organized arrangement that culminated in the volume La Ville Radieuse one year later. However, the theoretical maturity of such thought had already inspired the Charta of Athens (Ciam dated 1933, only published in 1942). What Le Corbusier (hereinafter referred to as L. C.) defines as the «possible town-planning revolution» was the result of an eventful series of project experiences, some of which are recalled in the drawings: proposals for the South-American towns dated 1929, the project for Ville Radieuse (Ciam of Brussels, 1930), the solution of «artificial lands» planned for Algiers in 1930, the Pla Macià for Barcelona worked out together with the Catalan rationalists of the Gatepac in 1932-33 and, finally, some solutions for the Latium countryside set forth in the two conferences held in Rome the month before.
In the town-planning revolution outlined by L.C., the action of redefining the habitat has to start from the house itself. The new landscape finds its fulcrum in the house itself, since the space-time relations with other times and places of living have to be measured over the 24 hours of the daily life. Even landscape redefining has to start from the house, by re-establishing the relationships of the building with the natural elements back to their purity (sun, tree, air, horizon).
Maximum attention is paid to land and to reducing its occupation. Overcoming the conflict between the modern technology of transports and the town may be the starting point for new compact settlement solutions: ribbon buildings, like in Rio de Janeiro and Algiers, vertical punctiform towns such as Rome’s suburbs, square towns with a 400-m side, such as Barcelona.
Such solutions allow separating the paths, in such a way as to give pedestrians back their dignity  and to free up a significant area from buildings. This way, the land where the town stands can be uninterruptedly a park. The model, according to its creator, would also allow total freedom of choice as to historical towns: it will be possible to thoroughly rebuild them, in their unhealthy fabrics, and bind them to the new town for the monumental parts and the parts that can get a new function.
L. C. builds his communicating system on basic signs. He built up a theory about this process: 
«A stroke, a scheme, allow outlining the picture of an idea, of a cycle,  of a period, even a future one on paper: pictures are made part of an equation, with a graphical algebra having its own rules, and the speed of which allows the explorer to get over the brushwood and catch the very substance of it».
The six big drawings faithfully reproduce –thus keeping the result untouched- both the impetuousness of the gesture following the lightning wit, and the messianic heat that is able to draw inspiration from poetry. Yet they also have the final form of a political programme, since they express –as a whole– the consistent vision of a new world made available by technique.
Their strength also comes from a genuine inclination to scientific though natural accuracy. With reference to the conferences held in South America, L. C. revealed his intimate attitude, 
«They, modestly, opened doors and windows. They are shown by sketches, carried out before the audience’s eyes. They allowed their author to clearly see inside himself, to be ingenuous once more, in his being satisfied with posing problems and giving them the most natural answer». The same spirit gives life to the Milanese drawings in such a way that, as a whole, they evoke the physical presence of the author.
L. C.’s six big drawings are part of the Archivio Piero Bottoni of the Department of Architectural Design of Milan’s Polytechnic. These were found out by Giancarlo Consonni, Lodovico Meneghetti and Graziella Tonon soon after the death of Piero Bottoni during the first works of classification of the documents he had kept. Finding of the ten sheets, relevant to the preliminary drawings of the conference, at the Fondation Le Corbusier in Paris –the first of which shows the heading of the Touring hotel of Milan, where L. C. lodged during his short stay in Milan– finally drove away any doubt about the dating, and allowed answering some questions about the order in which the drawings were carried out.

by: G. Consonni, L. Meneghetti, G. Tonon, Le Corbusier, Urbanismo. Le sei tavole della conferenza al Circolo Filologico milanese, giugno 1934, Lubrina Editore, Bergamo 1999.