As has been shown, the C.I.A.M. sponsored voyage on the SS P?tris II afforded rich exchanges between the passengers and especially between the Giedions and Le Corbusier. Their observations of ancient art and architecture, and two art historians’ and an architect’s subsequent reinterpretation and reinvention of them, allowed them to connect to the ancient past. Part of Le Corbusier’s search for a modern aesthetic, that would claim his place in the present and for the future while simultaneously claiming a connection with the deep Neolithic past, can be traced to this historic voyage.
Additionally, these rich exchanges between the Giedions and Le Corbusier during the summer of 1933 would eventually find sculptural expression in the Swiss architect’s future architectural projects such as his Jaoul Houses (1952-54) in Paris and at Notre-Dame-du-Haut (1950-55) at Ronchamp. At Jaoul Le Corbusier would recover and employ such devices as the Catalan arch, and plant-covered roofs like ‘the ancient Etruscans,’ evoking a ‘Mediterranean vernacular’ a seemingly provincial architecture that would launch a new direction in architectural design
While the Jaoul Houses were under construction Le Corbusier was busy giving shape to another building, one at Ronchamp that would bring him world wide admiration, acclaim voiced by professionals and the general public alike.
In his design for Notre-Dame-du-Haut at Ronchamp, Le Corbusier’s interest in eliciting a primal response through his use of curvilinear shapes and sculpted rough surface textures struck a chord throughout the global architectural community
The highly strategised rusticity and the equally calculated geometry of Ronchamp are testaments to Le Corbusier’s skills and ingenuity in balancing the old and the new without compromising either one, but instead merging the two into a synthetic whole. It is exactly Le Corbusier’s talent for creating this convincing mixture that echoes the gravitas of the Neolithic past of the Mediterranean and the buoyancy of his l’esprit nouveau expressed in his late works, all qualities that were discussed with great passion with the Giedions during their 1933 excursion.
The impact of the CIAM cruise, and his dialogue with the Giedions upon Le Corbusier’s ideas and work can also be seen in Le Corbusier’s own words. In July 1935, exactly two years after the Giedions and Le Corbusier’s voyage on the SS P?tris II, le Corbusier would say with renewed confidence that,
‘Architecture alone is an instance of total plasticity. Architecture alone
represents the medium for total lyricism. A total thought can be expressed through architecture. Architecture is self-sufficient. It is a genre that was created for expressing both through and in itself a whole cycle of emotions, the most intense of which stems from the influence of mathematics, where the play of plastic forms is symphonic.’