Obus: Intent and Inhabitation
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First proposed by Le Corbusier for the city of Algiers in 1932 but never built, the Plan Obus is Le Corbusier’s ultimate city planning project. The forerunner of the megastructures projects of the 1960s, it sits squarely within the high modernist notion of technological utopianism, yet also within the context of colonialism, standing as a summation of a hundred years of cultural hybridization and the dynamics of colonial power. As such, the Plan Obus was a project rooted in a modernist attempt at decolonizing the colony, deterritorializing its native inhabitants and shaping them into compliant subjects. But if built, the inherent freedom of its ‘generic frame’ may have allowed Algerians to reclaim the structure for themselves in the years after independence. This thesis investigates such a scenario with an illustrated story, testing the projection of a probable past and what we might expect the evolutionary history of a structure to be. One part typological analysis and one part fictional travelogue, it examines the processes of hybridization in the intended and real uses of architecture, during and beyond the years of colonialism. An investigation into an evolutionary history of this emblematic, yet enigmatic structure might offer a template for future studies in how architecture can be projected—whether into an uncertain future, or an unfulfilled past.
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Jeremy Jeong (2019). Obus: Intent and Inhabitation. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/15103