Conoids and Hyperbolic Paraboloids in Le Corbusier’s Philips Pavilion

  • Alessandra Capanna


The Philips Pavilion at the Brussels World Fair is the first of Le Corbusier’s architectural works to connect the evolution of his mathematical thought on harmonic series and modular coordination with the idea of three-dimensional continuity. This propitious circumstance was the consequence of his collaboration with Iannis Xenakis, whose profound interest in mathematical structures was improved on his becaming acquainted with the Modulor, while at the same time Le Corbusier encountered double ruled quadric surfaces. For the Philips Pavilion—the Poème Électronic—Corbusier entrusted Xenakis with a “mathematical translation” of his sketches, which represented the volume of a rounded bottle with a stomach-shaped plan. The Pavilion was designed as if it were an orchestral work in which lights, loudspeakers, film projections on curved surfaces, spectators’ shadows and their expression of wonder, objects hanging from the ceiling and the containing space itself were all virtual instruments.


Minimal Surface Golden Section Quadric Surface Virtual Instrument Hyperbolic Paraboloid 
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The images in Figs. 72.2, 72.3, 72.4, 72.5, 72.6, 72.7, and 72.8 are reproduced from the author’s personal archives.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento di Architettura e ProgettoUniversità di Roma “La Sapienza”RomeItaly

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