Charles-Edourard Jeanneret-Gris, better known under the name of LE CORBUSIER is a franco-swiss architect born the 6th of October 1887 in La-chaux-de-Fonds in Switzerland. Painter, sculptor, architect, urbanist and writer, Le Corbusier is among one of those visionary men that gave a new guide line to their art.
In 1900, he starts an artistic training to learn how to realise engraving and chasing, unfortunately, as a one-eyed, he needs to stop it. He therefore decides to become a painter. His lake of talent pushed his master to send him study architecture.
The mythic story of Le Corbusier can finally start.
The inspiration of Le Corbusier comes from his travel, art and his passion for the concept of “Order”. Let’s start with the travel. In may 1911, he decides to follow one of his friends on a huge tour all around the east. He will visit Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Istanbul, Athene, he will also come back to Italy in Florence and Pisa. During this travel, he will be profoundly inspired by the traditional architecture of Romanian and Bulgarian houses and the forms and colours of Istanbul.
Le corbusier is also a big fan of art. He meets Amédée Ozenfant in 1917 with who he will inaugurate the purist movement, which have the concept of order as guideline. The aim is to represent simple forms of daily life furnitures. Purism is, in a way, in opposition with the cubism that promote unorganized formed with a lot of colors. Let’s notice that Le Corbusier will finally develop a strong friendship with artists like Fernand Léger, or the mythic Pablo Picasso, pioneers of the cubist movement.
The White villas
One of the major pieces of Le Corbusier stay the White Villas. One of his first Villa was created for his parents, the Villa Jeanneret-Perret in his birth city, La Chaux-de-Fonds in Switzerland. The architect is using those houses as laboratories. He plays with forms, lights, volumes, and experiments architecture.
Le Corbusier defined 5 rules to create the White Villas: Piles, Banner windows, Free façade, Free plan and Rooftop.
The most famous of them White Villa is the Villa Savoye built between 1928 and 1931 next to Poissy in France. The house is a perfect representation of those 5 principles elaborated by Le Corbusier as you can see on the picture above.
The housing unit
The housing unit is a concept defended by Le Corbusier all his life. After the second World War mainly, France is completly destroyed. Therefore he tought a fonctionnal city model where you can live, work, cultivate yourslef and circulate properly.
The Cité Radieuse in Marseille is a perfect example of what a housing unit is. The building is composed by 337 flats divided in 23 different styles. It is build on piles and the structure own several shops, but also sportive, medical and educational facilities. Finally, the roof of the building is convert in a rooftop. It is a wealthy social neighbourhood that is living inside today. For the construction, Le Corbusier used concrete, which will characterise largely his brutal architectural style. This urbanism model will only be repeated 4 times, in Rezé, France (1955), Berlin, Germany (1957), Briey, France (1963) and Firminy, France (1965).
Le corbusier and the scandals
Considered as a visionary in his domain, Le Corbusier isn’t far from the scandals either. The architect was, on his time accused to be communist, and today, it is reproched to him to have been fascist. Where is the truth on all of this? Le Corbusier was probably searching a way for his art to be produce, and didn’t really care what was the political side of the generous donator.
He wanted to work with Pétain and Mussolini, but he hated Hitler. He didn’t had any problem working with Lenine and the US president at the same time. The fascists were saying that the “Great” conceptions of Le Corbusier expressed “the fundamental thought of faschism, the fashist revolution”, and, he was accused to have communist tendencies when he was working on the head-quarter project of the Société des Nations in 1928.
The artistic legacy
Today, even with the scandals, the legacy of Le Corbusier is known all around the world. The fondation Le Corbusier is created from 1967 on two pieces of the architect, the Villa Jeanneret and the Villa Roche. The association protect and defend his work and own plenty of historical records about the artist. The two Villas were classified as historical monument in 1996 and, become a part of the World Patrimony, when, with 15 others sites, they are recognized by the UNESCO the 17th of July 2016. 10 of those sites are in France and 7 are distributed between 3 continents. The Ville Savoye is among those classified sites. However, Le Corbusier doesn’t let only an architectural legacy. As a literary man he writed plenty of books about urbanism and architecture. In memory of the franco-swiss architect, all the 10 swiss francs notes represent Le Corbusier with his round glasses and the square Le Corbusier is created in Paris in 1988.
Le Corbusier is, nowaday, recognize as a visionary architect, he launched a new way of thinking the common living places.
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