Le Corbusier

1887 - 1965

CHARLES-ÉDOUARD JEANNERET, KNOWN AS LE CORBUSIER, WAS A SWISS-FRENCH ARCHITECT, DESIGNER, PAINTER, URBAN PLANNER, WRITER, AND ONE OF THE PIONEERS OF WHAT IS NOW REGARDED AS MODERN ARCHITECTURE. HE WAS BORN IN SWITZERLAND AND BECAME A FRENCH CITIZEN IN 1930. HIS CAREER SPANNED FIVE DECADES, AND HE DESIGNED BUILDINGS IN EUROPE, JAPAN, INDIA, AND NORTH AND SOUTH AMERICA. HE CONSIDERED THAT "THE ROOTS OF MODERN ARCHITECTURE ARE TO BE FOUND IN VIOLLET-LE-DUC."

DEDICATED TO PROVIDING BETTER LIVING CONDITIONS FOR THE RESIDENTS OF CROWDED CITIES, LE CORBUSIER WAS INFLUENTIAL IN URBAN PLANNING, AND WAS A FOUNDING MEMBER OF THE CONGRÈS INTERNATIONAL D'ARCHITECTURE MODERNE (CIAM). LE CORBUSIER PREPARED THE MASTER PLAN FOR THE CITY OF CHANDIGARH IN INDIA, AND CONTRIBUTED SPECIFIC DESIGNS FOR SEVERAL BUILDINGS THERE, ESPECIALLY THE GOVERNMENT BUILDINGS. 

ON JULY 17, 2016, SEVENTEEN PROJECTS BY LE CORBUSIER IN SEVEN COUNTRIES WERE INSCRIBED IN THE LIST OF UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITES AS THE ARCHITECTURAL WORK OF LE CORBUSIER, AN OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION TO THE MODERN MOVEMENT. 

LE CORBUSIER REMAINS A CONTROVERSIAL FIGURE. SOME OF HIS URBAN PLANNING IDEAS HAVE BEEN CRITICIZED FOR THEIR INDIFFERENCE TO PREEXISTING CULTURAL SITES, SOCIETAL EXPRESSION AND EQUALITY, AND HIS ALLEGED TIES WITH FASCISM, ANTISEMITISM, EUGENICS, AND THE DICTATOR, BENITO MUSSOLINI, WHICH HAS RESULTED IN SOME CONTINUED CONTENTION. 

LE CORBUSIER ALSO DESIGNED WELL-KNOWN FURNITURE SUCH AS THE LC4 CHAISE LOUNGE CHAIR, AND THE ALC-3001 CHAIR. BOTH ARE MADE WITH LEATHER WITH A METAL FRAMING. THEY ARE ALL SIMPLE, MODERN, AND FUNCTIONAL. 

JEANNERET WAS BORN ON OCTOBER 6, 1887, IN LA CHAUX-DE-FONDS, A SMALL CITY IN THE FRENCH-SPEAKING NEUCHÂTEL CANTON IN NORTH-WESTERN SWITZERLAND, IN THE JURA MOUNTAINS, 3 MILES ACROSS THE BORDER FROM FRANCE. IT WAS AN INDUSTRIAL TOWN, DEVOTED TO MANUFACTURING WATCHES. AMONG THE UNIFYING SOCIAL STRUCTURES OF LA CHAUX-DE FONDS WAS THE LOGE L'AMITIÉ, THE MASONIC LODGE WITH ITS FRANCOPHONE MORAL, SOCIAL, AND PHILOSOPHICAL IDEAS, INCLUDING THE SYMBOLIC ICONOGRAPHY OF THE RIGHT ANGLE (RECTITUDE) AND THE COMPASS (EXACTITUDE). LE CORBUSIER WOULD LATER DESCRIBE THESE AS "MY GUIDE, MY CHOICE" AND HIS "TIME-HONORED IDEAS, INGRAINED AND DEEP-ROOTED IN THE INTELLECT, LIKE ENTRIES FROM A CATECHISM." HIS FATHER WAS AN ARTISAN WHO ENAMELLED BOXES AND WATCHES, AND HIS MOTHER TAUGHT PIANO LESSONS. HIS ELDER BROTHER, ALBERT, WAS AN AMATEUR VIOLINIST. LE CORBUSIER ATTENDED A KINDERGARTEN THAT USED FRÖBELIAN METHODS.

LIKE HIS CONTEMPORARIES, FRANK LLOYD AND MIES VAN DER ROHE, LE CORBUSIER LACKED FORMAL TRAINING AS AN ARCHITECT. HE WAS ATTRACTED TO THE VISUAL ARTS. AT THE AGE OF FIFTEEN, HE ENTERED THE MUNICIPAL ART SCHOOL IN LA CHAUX-DE-FONDS, WHICH TAUGHT THE APPLIED ARTS IN CONNECTION TO WATCHMAKING. THREE YEARS LATER, HE ATTENDED THE HIGHER SCHOOL OF EDUCATION AND DECORATION, FOUNDED BY THE PAINTED CHARLES L'EPLATTENIER, WHO HAD STUDIED IN BUDAPEST AND PARIS. LE CORBUSIER WROTE LATER THAT L'EPLATTENIER HAD MADE HIM A "A MAN OF THE WOODS" AND TAUGHT HIM ABOUT PAINTING FROM NATURE. HIS FATHER FREQUENTLY TOOK HIM INTO THE MOUNTAINS AROUND THE TOWN. HE WROTE LATER, "WE WERE CONSTANTLY ON THE MOUNTAINTOPS AND WE GREW ACCUSTOMED TO A VAST HORIZON." HIS ARCHITECTURE TEACHER AT THE ART SCHOOL WAS ARCHITECT, RENÉ CHAPALLAZ, WHO HAD A LARGE INFLUENCE ON LE CORBUSIER'S EARLIEST HOUSE DESIGNS. HE REPORTED LATER THAT IT WAS THE ART TEACHER, L'EPLATTENIER, WHO MADE HIM CHOOSE ARCHITECTURE. "I HAD A HORROR OF ARCHITECTURE AND ARCHITECTS," HE WROTE. "...I WAS SIXTEEN, AND I ACCEPTED THE VERDICT AND OBEYED. I MOVED INTO ARCHITECTURE."