Pairing Le Corbusier and the affordances of comparisons for architectural history

Roy Kozlovsky*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Pairing is a technique for historicising and theorising architecture by explicitly comparing two entities, be they architects, buildings or periods. As this mechanism constitutes the object of knowledge by establishing a relationship between two discrete objects, it raises a host of methodological, theoretical and historiographical concerns, among them the criteria for selecting the cases, the concepts by which their differences and similarities are assessed and made meaningful, the interrelation between linguistic and visual media, and finally, the agency of aesthetics in works of architectural scholarship. Le Corbusier serves as the case study for exploring pairing formally, as a rhetorical trope, and contextually, as a discursive intervention within a given field of knowledge. This paper analyses successive comparative ‘events’ performed in the history of architecture by Colin Rowe, Reyner Banham, Stanislaus von Moos, and Beatriz Colomina, to argue for the portability of this form and its discursive function as an alternative, counter-narrative mode of historical inquiry. As a series, the pairings reaffirm Le Corbusier’s position as the central reference point around which the history of modernism revolves. The paper concludes with a discussion of pairing as a medium for incorporating historiographical methods of research into architectural theory and pedagogy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)549-570
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Architecture
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2019


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