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Art November, 18 2008

Le Corbusier in Baghdad

Often, the unbuilt is more exciting than the built. For example, Henry Hobson Richardson’s design for the Connecticut State House or the work of Italian futurist Antonio Sant’elia. Paper architecture, as the historians call it, allows us to see visions of the world that never come to fruition.

In Baghdad, dreams of hosting an Olympic Games yield such visions. Le Corbusier was commissioned to design the stadium and related venues. The project became the basis for Baghdad’s bid for the 1960 games, and remained on Le Corbusier’s desk until his death. In 1981, the gymnasium was actually constructed, but all other buildings failed to materialize.

The Olympic Stadium Project: Le Corbusier and Baghdad at the V&A, allows a glimpse into the project and a rare view into Le Corbusier’s vision of an Olympic facility. The exhibition is on view until March 29, 2009.

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