2011 recipients

Dr Mahnaz Shah

Le Corbusier's Potato Building Typology 1963 - 1965: An Analysis

By proposing a detailed analysis of Le Corbusier potato building typology, this research hopes to present a facet of Le Corbusier work that remains largely unexplored. Le Corbusier is primarily known for his modernist architectural and urban discourses, the study hopes to present an alternate body of works and research of the architect, through the lesser known archival materials i.e., the 16 sketches present at the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA), Montreal and his interwar project details archived at the Fondation Le Corbusier (FLC), Paris. Research will also include a study of the 'black notebooks' kept by one of Le Corbusier's primary assistant during 1963 - 1965, the late Guillaume Jullian de la Fuente, now archived at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. This study has not been conducted in the past, nor the sketches analyzed in such a manner.

I would like to study/trace the precedence of these 16 sketches. The contention is that these sketches were a formal continuation of Le Corbusier's initial urban studies (1910 - 1915) along with his projects from the interwar period, in particular the Ville Radieuse. It is proposed that these sketches are a continuation of Le Corbusier's earlier urban studies that were later more concretely formulated in the above sketches and the city of Venice. This research will postulate that for Le Corbusier the potato building typology studies furthermore became a point of reference to determine the logic of horizontal circulation in resolving urban planning issues.


Mahnaz Shah obtained a MSAE degree with research interest in cognitive design from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Boston in 2002. In 2003 she began her PhD research at the Architectural Association. In 2006 she was awarded a full PhD studentship at the Research School, Open University, where she completed her PhD dissertation on the structural formulations and analysis of Le Corbusier's Venice hospital project 1964 - 1965. She completed her first six month post doctoral training at the Urban Design Studies Unit, University of Strathclyde. From August 2010 to March 2011 she joined the Glasgow Urban Lab, at the Mackintosh School of Architecture as a visiting researcher. Research included inquiry into Glasgow's built environment and health inequality. The research was conducted in collaboration with the DRS team at the Glasgow City Council.

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