1887 - 1965 Swiss Painter, sculptor, and major Architect of the 20th Century

That which is most significant about Le Corbusier is a philosophy he promoted in his life which in turn influenced many other architects and caused a paradigm shift in their thinking. His main innovation was to greatly enlarge the scale of buildings. And to strip them of all excess ornament and clutter. The "clean lines" and "box like" shapes were named the International Style. He longed for buildings that would house tens of thousands of people. He was convinced this was the solution to humanities problems. But not content to draw images which could not be realized, he worked out a construction method based on steel reinforced concrete floors and walls all supported by massive columns. He went on to build huge complexes of apartments and condominiums. He inspired like buildings in many other countries. In America, were built many large housing projects inspired in part by his ideas. Years later, these buildings were deemed a failure and torn down.


Born Charles-Edouard Jeanneret in Switzerland into a family of watchmakers. In 1901 he studied art in the school of his local town, "L’Ecole d’Art" where he met his mentor Charles L’Eplattenier. Here he was influenced by the ideas of Plato and Pythagorus; as well as William Morris, John Ruskin and the Arts and Crafts Movement. The next year he engraved a clock which went on display at an Exhibition. From 1907-11 he traveled around europe, visiting Italy, Hungary and Austria. While on this trip, he met architect Josef Hoffmann who he ultimately went to work for. In 1910 he spent time with the architect Peter Behrens, who had influenced Walter Gropius and Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe of the Bauhaus. In 1914, he had developed the essential "Dom-ino" house which consisted of floors of steel reinforced concrete and pillars between floors. In 1916 he moved to Paris, shortly afterwards he adopted his grandfather's name, Le Corbusier. In 1920 he co-founded the magazine L'Esprit Nouveau which covered all the arts, economics, politics, psychology, Industrial Design and architecture. In 1922, with his cousin, Pierre Jeanneret, he opened his own studio. This same year he designed a residence for the Painter Ozenfant. He also exhibited drawings at the Salon d'Automne for a project called 'Ville Contemporaine' which was planned for a capacity of 3 million people. He also won a competition for the architectural design for the Palace of the League of Nations in Geneva. In 1930, Corbusier joined the syndicalist movement. Syndicats were groups of workers in a particular trade that elected their "natural" leader to a regional trade council. They were very concerned with workers’ rights.

In 1935 he came to Manhattan which is a city that he loved. It was then he made his now famous statement that he liked the buildings in New York, except that they were just too small. There is no doubt that Le Corbusier thought on a grande scale.

In the years after the war, he met Iannis Xenakis whose interest in Mathematics as a basis for composing music fascinated Corbusier.

The Radiant City

This was his idea of a utopian city. It began with pre-fabricated apartment houses which formed the central focus of the city. He envisioned a very dense development of 2,700 inhabitants with fourteen square meters of space per person. It was his intention to put this in the Paris 4th district. Each complex was equipped with a catering section in the basement, which would prepare daily meals. On top of the apartment buildinds were roof top gardens. Children were to be dropped off at daycare centers and raised by "scientifically trained professionals". The concept was created in the image of Corbusier himself, he went to a lot of trouble to accomodate those things which he himself loved to do; daytime activities like basketball and laying in the sun. Nowhere in the plan was mentioned bars, pubs, cabarets or niteclubs.

At points in his career he tried his hand at being an Industrial Designer and designed the chaise-lounge and the Basculant Chair.

Buildings he designed:

  • Notre Dame Du Haut - Ronchamp, France
  • Palace of the League of Nations - Geneva, Switzerland
  • Front-de-Seine - Paris 15th district, Paris, France
  • Aero-club de Doncourt - Conflans, France
  • High Court (Palais de justice) - Chandigarh, India
  • Visual Arts Center - Cambridge, MA USA
  • Museum of Modern Western Art - Tokyo, Japan
  • Unité d'habitation de Marseille - Marseille, France
  • Centrosoyus - Moscow, Russia
  • Centre culturel (musée) - Ahmedabad, India
  • Baizeau - Carthago (Sainte Monique), Tunisia
  • Immeuble Clarté - Genève, Switzerland
  • Galerie des arts d'outre mer - Paris, France
  • Dr.Currutchet's House - 1900 La Plata, Argentina - House of the College of architects from La Plata, designed 1949 in collaboration with M.Cadierno.
  • Maison Errazuris - Chili
  • Ministry of Education and Public Health - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • Pavillion de l'Esprit Nouveau - Bologna, Italy
  • Pavillion Philips - Brussel, Belgium
  • Centre de réadaptation et gymnastiqe - Paris, France
  • Quartiers Moderne Frugès a Pessac - Bordeaux, France- his Citrohan House Plans of 1919. A Workers housing project near Bordeaux ordered by M. Henry Frugès, designed 1925 in collaboration with Pierre Jeanneret. In 1997 many houses are restored to original state. One house in original state, now a museum.
  • Plan for the City of Chandigarh - Punjab, India

Corbu, Edgard Varèse and Iannis Xenakis

This is my favorite story about the man. He was commissioned by the Philips corporation to do their pavilion for the 1958 World's Fair in Brussels, Belgium. He used his power and prestige to see to it that Edgard Varèse and Iannis Xenakis were retained to write music for the multimedia installation. At first Philips rejected this, but relented after the architect threatened to walk out on the project. Several times Philips and the composers had conflicts. Each time Le Corbusier came in and settled the disputes. This was a great gift for Varèsewho had never had great success in his lifetime. Edgard's resulting piece, Poem Electronique and Iannis' "Metastasis" were piped into the space through more than 400 speakers throughout the pavilion. The exhibition was a great success and the last significant work of Varèse.

Sources: http://www.tu-harburg.de/b/kuehn/lecorb.html http://www.time.com/time/time100/artists/profile/lecorbusier.html www.bk.tudelft.nl/d-arch/agram/corbu/INDEX.HTM Last Updated 10.12.02

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.