|Birth Day:||October 6, 1887|
|Death Date:||27 August 1965(1965-08-27) (aged 77)
|Birth Place:||La Chaux-de-Fonds, Swazi|
As per our current Database, Le Corbusier died on 27 August 1965(1965-08-27) (aged 77)
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Charles-Édouard Jeanneret was born on 6 October 1887 in La Chaux-de-Fonds, a small city in the French-speaking Neuchâtel canton in north-western Switzerland, in the Jura mountains, 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) across the border from France. It was an industrial town, devoted to manufacturing watches. (He adopted the pseudonym Le Corbusier in 1920.) His father was an artisan who enameled boxes and watches, and his mother taught piano. His elder brother Albert was an amateur violinist. He attended a kindergarten that used Fröbelian methods.
Le Corbusier began teaching himself by going to the library to read about architecture and philosophy, by visiting museums, by sketching buildings, and by constructing them. In 1905, he and two other students, under the supervision of their teacher, René Chapallaz, designed and built his first house, the Villa Fallet, for the engraver Louis Fallet, a friend of his teacher Charles L'Eplattenier. Located on the forested hillside near Chaux-de-fonds, it was a large chalet with a steep roof in the local alpine style and carefully crafted colored geometric patterns on the façade. The success of this house led to his construction of two similar houses, the Villas Jacquemet and Stotzer, in the same area.
In September 1907, he made his first trip outside of Switzerland, going to Italy; then that winter traveling through Budapest to Vienna, where he stayed for four months and met Gustav Klimt and tried, without success, to meet Josef Hoffmann. In Florence, he visited the Florence Charterhouse in Galluzzo, which made a lifelong impression on him. "I would have liked to live in one of what they called their cells," he wrote later. "It was the solution for a unique kind of worker's housing, or rather for a terrestrial paradise." He traveled to Paris, and during fourteen months between 1908 until 1910 he worked as a draftsman in the office of the architect Auguste Perret, the pioneer of the use of reinforced concrete in residential construction and the architect of the Art Deco landmark Théâtre des Champs-Élysées. Two years later, between October 1910 and March 1911, he traveled to Germany and worked four months in the office Peter Behrens, where Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Walter Gropius were also working and learning.
Le Corbusier wrote later that the Unité d'Habitation concept was inspired by the visit he had made to the Florence Charterhouse at Galluzzo in Italy, in 1907 and 1910 during his early travels. He wanted to recreate, he wrote, an ideal place "for meditation and contemplation." He also learned from the monastery, he wrote, that "standardization led to perfection," and that "all of his life a man labours under this impulse: to make the home the temple of the family."
In 1911, he traveled again with his friend August Klipstein for five months; this time he journeyed to the Balkans and visited Serbia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Greece, as well as Pompeii and Rome, filling nearly 80 sketchbooks with renderings of what he saw—including many sketches of the Parthenon, whose forms he would later praise in his work Vers une architecture (1923). He spoke of what he saw during this trip in many of his books, and it was the subject of his last book, Le Voyage d'Orient.
In 1912, he began his most ambitious project; a new house for his parents. also located on the forested hillside near La-Chaux-de-Fonds. The Jeanneret-Perret house was larger than the others, and in a more innovative style; the horizontal planes contrasted dramatically with the steep alpine slopes, and the white walls and lack of decoration were in sharp contrast with the other buildings on the hillside. The interior spaces were organized around the four pillars of the salon in the center, foretelling the open interiors he would create in his later buildings. The project was more expensive to build than he imagined; his parents were forced to move from the house within ten years, and relocate in a more modest house. However, it led to a commission to build an even more imposing villa in the nearby village of Le Locle for a wealthy watch manufacturer, Georges Favre-Jacot. Le Corbusier designed the new house in less than a month. The building was carefully designed to fit its hillside site, and interior plan was spacious and designed around a courtyard for maximum light, significant departure from the traditional house.
During World War I, Le Corbusier taught at his old school in La-Chaux-de-Fonds. He concentrated on theoretical architectural studies using modern techniques. In December 1914, along with the engineer Max Dubois, he began a serious study of the use of reinforced concrete as a building material. He had first discovered concrete working in the office of Auguste Perret, the pioneer of reinforced concrete architecture in Paris, but now wanted to use it in new ways.
In August 1916, Le Corbusier received his largest commission ever, to construct a villa for the Swiss watchmaker Anatole Schwob, for whom he had already completed several small remodeling projects. He was given a large budget and the freedom to design not only the house, but also to create the interior decoration and choose the furniture. Following the precepts of Auguste Perret, he built the structure out of reinforced concrete and filled the gaps with brick. The center of the house is a large concrete box with two semicolumn structures on both sides, which reflects his ideas of pure geometrical forms. A large open hall with a chandelier occupied the center of the building. "You can see," he wrote to Auguste Perret in July 1916, "that Auguste Perret left more in me than Peter Behrens."
Le Corbusier moved to Paris definitively in 1917 and began his own architectural practice with his cousin, Pierre Jeanneret (1896–1967), a partnership that would last until the 1950s, with an interruption in the World War II years
In 1918, Le Corbusier met the Cubist painter Amédée Ozenfant, in whom he recognised a kindred spirit. Ozenfant encouraged him to paint, and the two began a period of collaboration. Rejecting Cubism as irrational and "romantic", the pair jointly published their manifesto, Après le cubisme and established a new artistic movement, Purism. Ozenfant and Le Corbusier began writing for a new journal, L'Esprit Nouveau, and promoted with energy and imagination his ideas of architecture.
Between 1918 and 1922, Le Corbusier did not build anything, concentrating his efforts on Purist theory and painting. In 1922, he and his cousin Pierre Jeanneret opened a studio in Paris at 35 rue de Sèvres. They set up an architectural practice together. From 1927 to 1937 they worked together with Charlotte Perriand at the Le Corbusier-Pierre Jeanneret studio. In 1929 the trio prepared the “House fittings” section for the Decorative Artists Exhibition and asked for a group stand, renewing and widening the 1928 avant-garde group idea. This was refused by the Decorative Artists Committee. They resigned and founded the Union of Modern Artists (“Union des artistes modernes”: UAM).
An important early work of Le Corbusier was the Esprit Nouveau Pavilion, built for the 1925 Paris International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts, the event which later gave Art Deco its name. Le Corbusier built the pavilion in collaboration with Amédée Ozenfant and with his cousin Pierre Jeanneret. Le Corbusier and Ozenfant had broken with Cubism and formed the Purism movement in 1918 and in 1920 founded their journal L'Esprit Nouveau. In his new journal, Le Corbusier vividly denounced the decorative arts: "Decorative Art, as opposed to the machine phenomenon, is the final twitch of the old manual modes, a dying thing." To illustrate his ideas, he and Ozenfant decided to create small pavilion at the Exposition, representing his idea of the future urban housing unit. A house, he wrote, "is a cell within the body of a city. The cell is made up of the vital elements which are the mechanics of a house...Decorative art is antistandarizational. Our pavilion will contain only standard things created by industry in factories and mass produced, objects truly of the style of today...my pavilion will therefore be a cell extracted from a huge apartment building."
In the first issue of the journal, in 1920, Charles-Edouard Jeanneret adopted Le Corbusier (an altered form of his maternal grandfather's name, Lecorbésier) as a pseudonym, reflecting his belief that anyone could reinvent themselves. Adopting a single name to identify oneself was in vogue by artists in many fields during that era, especially in Paris.
In 1922 and 1923, Le Corbusier devoted himself to advocating his new concepts of architecture and urban planning in a series of polemical articles published in L'Esprit Nouveau. At the Paris Salon d'Automne in 1922, he presented his plan for the Ville Contemporaine, a model city for three million people, whose residents would live and work in a group of identical sixty-story tall apartment buildings surrounded by lower zig-zag apartment blocks and a large park. In 1923, he collected his essays from L'Esprit Nouveau published his first and most influential book, Towards an Architecture. He presented his ideas for the future of architecture in a series of maxims, declarations, and exhortations, pronouncing that "a grand epoch has just begun. There exists a new spirit. There already exist a crowd of works in the new spirit, they are found especially in industrial production. Architecture is suffocating in its current uses. "Styles" are a lie. Style is a unity of principles which animates all the work of a period and which result in a characteristic spirit...Our epoch determines each day its style..-Our eyes, unfortunately don't know how to see it yet," and his most famous maxim, "A house is a machine to live in." Most of the many photographs and drawings in the book came from outside the world of traditional architecture; the cover showed the promenade deck of an ocean liner, while others showed racing cars, airplanes, factories, and the huge concrete and steel arches of zeppelin hangars.
As the global Great Depression enveloped Europe, Le Corbusier devoted more and more time to his ideas for urban design and planned cities. He believed that his new, modern architectural forms would provide an organizational solution that would raise the quality of life for the working classes. In 1922 he had presented his model of the Ville Contemporaine, a city of three million inhabitants, at the Salon d'Automne in Paris. His plan featured tall office towers with surrounded by lower residential blocks in a park setting. He reported that "analysis leads to such dimensions, to such a new scale, and to such the creation of an urban organism so different from those that exist, that it that the mind can hardly imagine it." The Ville Contemporaine, presenting an imaginary city in an imaginary location, did not attract the attention that Le Corbusier wanted. For his next proposal, the Plan Voisin (1925), he took a much more provocative approach; he proposed to demolish a large part of central Paris and to replace it with a group of sixty-story cruciform office towers surrounded by parkland. This idea shocked most viewers, as it was certainly intended to do. The plan included a multi-level transportation hub that included depots for buses and trains, as well as highway intersections, and an airport. Le Corbusier had the fanciful notion that commercial airliners would land between the huge skyscrapers. He segregated pedestrian circulation paths from the roadways and created an elaborate road network. Groups of lower-rise zigzag apartment blocks, set back from the street, were interspersed among the office towers. Le Corbusier wrote: "The center of Paris, currently threatened with death, threatened by exodus, is in reality a diamond mine...To abandon the center of Paris to its fate is to desert in face of the enemy."
In 1925, Le Corbusier combined a series of articles about decorative art from "L'Esprit Nouveau" into a book, L'art décoratif d'aujourd'hui (The Decorative Art of Today). The book was a spirited attack on the very idea of decorative art. His basic premise, repeated throughout the book, was: "Modern decorative art has no decoration." He attacked with enthusiasm the styles presented at the 1925 Exposition of Decorative Arts: "The desire to decorate everything about one is a false spirit and an abominable small perversion....The religion of beautiful materials is in its final death agony...The almost hysterical onrush in recent years toward this quasi-orgy of decor is only the last spasm of a death already predictable." He cited the 1912 book of the Austrian architect Adolf Loos "Ornament and crime", and quoted Loos's dictum, "The more a people are cultivated, the more decor disappears." He attacked the deco revival of classical styles, what he called "Louis Philippe and Louis XVI moderne"; he condemned the "symphony of color" at the Exposition, and called it "the triumph of assemblers of colors and materials. They were swaggering in colors... They were making stews out of fine cuisine." He condemned the exotic styles presented at the Exposition based on the art of China, Japan, India and Persia. "It takes energy today to affirm our western styles." He criticized the "precious and useless objects that accumulated on the shelves" in the new style. He attacked the "rustling silks, the marbles which twist and turn, the vermilion whiplashes, the silver blades of Byzantium and the Orient…Let's be done with it!"
Thanks to his passionate articles in L'Esprit Nouveau, his participation in the 1925 Decorative Arts Exposition and the conferences he gave on the new spirit of architecture, Le Corbusier had become well known in the architectural world, though he had only built residences for wealthy clients. In 1926, he entered the competition for the construction of a headquarters for the League of Nations in Geneva with a plan for an innovative lakeside complex of modernist white concrete office buildings and meeting halls. There were three-hundred thirty seven projects in competition. It appeared that the Corbusier's project was the first choice of the architectural jury, but after much behind-the scenes maneuvering the jury declared it was unable to pick a single winner, and the project was given instead to the top five architects, who were all neoclassicists. Le Corbusier was not discouraged; he presented his own plans to the public in articles and lectures to show the opportunity that the League of Nations had missed.
Le Corbusier was an eloquent critic of the finely crafted, hand-made furniture, made with rare and exotic woods, inlays and coverings, presented at the 1925 Exposition of Decorative Arts. Following his usual method, Le Corbusier first wrote a book with his theories of furniture, complete with memorable slogans. In his 1925 book L'Art Décoratif d'aujourd'hui, he called for furniture that used inexpensive materials and could be mass-produced. Le Corbusier described three different furniture types: type-needs, type-furniture, and human-limb objects. He defined human-limb objects as: "Extensions of our limbs and adapted to human functions that are type-needs and type-functions, therefore type-objects and type-furniture. The human-limb object is a docile servant. A good servant is discreet and self-effacing in order to leave his master free. Certainly, works of art are tools, beautiful tools. And long live the good taste manifested by choice, subtlety, proportion, and harmony". He further declared: "Chairs are architecture, sofas are bourgeois".
In 1926, Le Corbusier received the opportunity he had been looking for; he was commissioned by a Bordeaux industrialist, Henry Frugès, a fervent admirer of his ideas on urban planning, to build a complex of worker housing, the Cité Frugès, at Pessac, a suburb of Bordeaux. Le Corbusier described Pessac as "A little like a Balzac novel", a chance to create a whole community for living and working. The Fruges quarter became his first laboratory for a residential housing ; a series of rectangular blocks composed of modular housing units located in a garden setting. Like the unit displayed at the 1925 Exposition, each housing unit had its own small terrace. The earlier villas he constructed all had white exterior walls, but for Pessac, at the request of his clients, he added color; panels of brown, yellow and jade green, coordinated by Le Corbusier. Originally planned to have some two hundred units, it finally contained about fifty to seventy housing units, in eight buildings. Pessac became the model on a small scale for his later and much larger Cité Radieuse projects.
Under this system, the structure of the house did not have to appear on the outside, but could be hidden behind a glass wall, and the interior could be arranged in any way the architect liked. After it was patented, Le Corbusier designed a number of houses according to the system, which were all white concrete boxes. Although some of these were never built, they illustrated his basic architectural ideas which would dominate his works throughout the 1920s. He refined the idea in his 1927 book on the Five Points of a New Architecture. This design, which called for the disassociation of the structure from the walls, and the freedom of plans and façades, became the foundation for most of his architecture over the next ten years.
The notoriety that Le Corbusier achieved from his writings and the Pavilion at the 1925 Exposition led to commissions to build a dozen residences in Paris and in the Paris region in his "purist style." These included the Maison La Roche/Albert Jeanneret (1923–1925), which now houses the Fondation Le Corbusier; the Maison Guiette in Antwerp, Belgium (1926); a residence for Jacques Lipchitz; the Maison Cook, and the Maison Planeix. In 1927, he was invited by the German Werkbund to build three houses in the model city of Weissenhof near Stuttgart, based on the Citrohan House and other theoretical models he had published. He described this project in detail one of his best-known essays, the Five Points of Architecture.
Le Corbusier defined the principles of his new architecture in Les cinq points de l'architecture moderne, published in 1927, and co-authored by his cousin, Pierre Jeanneret. They summarized the lessons he had learned in the previous years, which he put literally into concrete form in his villas constructed of the late 1920s, most dramatically in the Villa Savoye (1928–1931)
Le Corbusier's 1927 Villa Stein in Garches exemplified the Modulor system's application. The villa's rectangular ground plan, elevation, and inner structure closely approximate golden rectangles.
In 1928, Le Corbusier took a major step toward establishing modernist architecture as the dominant European style. Le Corbusier had met with many of the leading German and Austrian modernists during the competition for the League of Nations in 1927. In the same year, the German Werkbund organized an architectural exposition at the Weissenhof Estate Stuttgart. Seventeen leading modernist architects in Europe were invited to design twenty-one houses; Le Corbusier and Mies Van der Rohe played a major part. In 1927 Le Corbusier, Pierre Chareau and others proposed the foundation of an international conference to establish the basis for a common style. The first meeting of the Congrès Internationaux d'Architecture Moderne or International Congresses of Modern Architects (CIAM), was held in a château on Lake Leman in Switzerland 26–28 June 1928. Those attending included Le Corbusier, Robert Mallet-Stevens, Auguste Perret, Pierre Chareau and Tony Garnier from France; Victor Bourgeois from Belgium; Walter Gropius, Erich Mendelsohn, Ernst May and Mies Van der Rohe from Germany; Josef Frank from Austria; Mart Stam and Gerrit Rietveld from the Netherlands, and Adolf Loos from Czechoslovakia. A delegation of Soviet architects was invited to attend, but they were unable to obtain visas. Later members included Josep Lluís Sert of Spain and Alvar Aalto of Finland. No one attended from the United States. A second meeting was organized in 1930 in Brussels by Victor Bourgeois on the topic "Rational methods for groups of habitations". A third meeting, on "The functional city", was scheduled for Moscow in 1932, but was cancelled at the last minute. Instead the delegates held their meeting on a cruise ship traveling between Marseille and Athens. On board, they together drafted a text on how modern cities should be organized. The text, called The Athens Charter, after considerable editing by Le Corbusier and others, was finally published in 1943 and became an influential text for city planners in the 1950s and 1960s. The group met once more in Paris in 1937 to discuss public housing and was scheduled to meet in the United States in 1939, but the meeting was cancelled because of the war. The legacy of the CIAM was a roughly common style and doctrine which helped define modern architecture in Europe and the United States after World War II.
Between 1928 and 1934, as Le Corbusier's reputation grew, he received commissions to construct a wide variety of buildings. In 1928 he received a commission from the Soviet government to construct the headquarters of the Tsentrosoyuz, or central office of trade unions, a large office building whose glass walls alternated with plaques of stone. He built the Villa de Madrot in Le Pradet (1929–1931); and an apartment in Paris for Charles de Bestigui at the top of an existing building on the Champs-Élysées 1929–1932, (later demolished). In 1929–1930 he constructed a floating homeless shelter for the Salvation Army on the left bank of the Seine at the Pont d'Austerlitz. Between 1929 and 1933, he built a larger and more ambitious project for the Salvation Army, the Cité de Refuge, on rue Cantagrel in the 13th arrondissement of Paris. He also constructed the Swiss Pavilion in the Cité Universitaire in Paris with 46 units of student housing, (1929–33). He designed furniture to go with the building; the main salon was decorated with a montage of black-and-white photographs of nature. In 1948, he replaced this with a colorful mural he painted himself. In Geneva he built a glass-walled apartment building with forty-five units, the Immeuble Clarté. Between 1931 and 1945 he built an apartment building with fifteen units, including an apartment and studio for himself on the 6th and 7th floors, at 4 rue Nungesser-et-Coli in the 16th arrondissement in Paris. overlooking the Bois de Boulogne. His apartment and studio are owned today by the Fondation Le Corbusier, and can be visited.
In 1928, the French Minister of Labour, Louis Loucheur, won the passage of a French law on public housing, calling for the construction of 260,000 new housing units within five years. Le Corbusier immediately began to design a new type of modular housing unit, which he called the Maison Loucheur, which would be suitable for the project. These units were forty-five square metres (480 square feet) in size, made with metal frames, and were designed to be mass-produced and then transported to the site, where they would be inserted into frameworks of steel and stone; The government insisted on stone walls to win the support of local building contractors. The standardisation of apartment buildings was the essence of what Le Corbusier termed the Ville Radieuse or "radiant city", in a new book which published in 1935. The Radiant City was similar to his earlier Contemporary City and Plan Voisin, with the difference that residences would be assigned by family size, rather than by income and social position. In his 1935 book, he developed his ideas for a new kind of city, where the principle functions; heavy industry, manufacturing, habitation and commerce, would be clearly separated into their own neighbourhoods, carefully planned and designed. However, before any units could be built, World War II intervened.
The "Architectural Promenade" was another idea dear to Le Corbusier, which he particularly put into play in his design of the Villa Savoye. In 1928, in Une Maison, un Palais, he described it: "Arab architecture gives us a precious lesson: it is best appreciated in walking, on foot. It is in walking, in going from one place to another, that you see develop the features of the architecture. In this house (Villa Savoye) you find a veritable architectural promenade, offering constantly varying aspects, unexpected, sometimes astonishing." The promenade at Villa Savoye, Le Corbusier wrote, both in the interior of the house and on the roof terrace, often erased the traditional difference between the inside and outside.
Le Corbusier first relied on ready-made furniture from Thonet to furnish his projects, such as his pavilion at the 1925 Exposition. In 1928, following the publication of his theories, he began experimenting with furniture design. In 1928, he invited the architect Charlotte Perriand to join his studio as a furniture designer. His cousin, Pierre Jeanneret, also collaborated on many of the designs. For the manufacture of his furniture, he turned to the German firm Gebrüder Thonet, which had begun making chairs with tubular steel, a material originally used for bicycles, in the early 1920s. Le Corbusier admired the design of Marcel Breuer and the Bauhaus, who in 1925 had begun making sleek modern tubular club chairs. Mies van der Rohe had begun making his own version in a sculptural curved form with a cane seat in 1927.
As no doubt Le Corbusier expected, no one hurried to implement the Plan Voisin, but he continued working on variations of the idea and recruiting followers. In 1929, he traveled to Brazil where he gave conferences on his architectural ideas. He returned with drawings of his own vision for Rio de Janeiro; he sketched serpentine multi-story apartment buildings on pylons, like inhabited highways, winding through Rio de Janeiro.
In 1931, he developed a visionary plan for another city Algiers, then part of France. This plan, like his Rio Janeiro plan, called for the construction of an elevated viaduct of concrete, carrying residential units, which would run from one end of the city to the other. This plan, unlike his early Plan Voisin, was more conservative, because it did not call for the destruction of the old city of Algiers; the residential housing would be over the top of the old city. This plan, like his Paris plans, provoked discussion, but never came close to realization.
In 1932, he was invited to take part in an international competition for the new Palace of the Soviets in Moscow, which was to be built on the site of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, demolished on Stalin's orders. Le Corbusier contributed a highly original plan, a low-level complex of circular and rectangular buildings and a rainbow-like arch from which the roof of the main meeting hall was suspended. To Le Corbusier's distress, his plan was rejected by Stalin in favor of a plan for a massive neoclassical tower, the highest in Europe, crowned with a statue of Vladimir Lenin. The Palace was never built; construction was stopped by World War II, a swimming pool took its place; and after the collapse of the USSR the cathedral was rebuilt on its original site.
The political views of Le Corbusier were rather variable over time. In the 1920s, he co-founded and contributed articles about urbanism to the fascist journals Plans, Prélude and L'Homme Réel. He also penned pieces in favour of Nazi anti-semitism for those journals, as well as "hateful editorials". Between 1925 and 1928, Le Corbusier had connections to Le Faisceau, a short-lived French fascist party led by Georges Valois. Valois later became an anti-fascist. Le Corbusier knew another former member of Faisceau, Hubert Lagardelle, a former labor leader and syndicalist who had become disaffected with the political left. In 1934, after Lagardelle had obtained a position at the French embassy in Rome, he arranged for Le Corbusier to lecture on architecture in Italy. Lagardelle later served as minister of labor in the pro-Axis Vichy regime. While Le Corbusier sought commissions from the Vichy regime, particularly the redesign of Marseille after its Jewish population had been forcefully removed, he was unsuccessful, and the only appointment he received from it was membership of a committee studying urbanism. Alexis Carrel, a eugenicist surgeon, appointed Le Corbusier to the Department of Bio-Sociology of the Foundation for the Study of Human Problems, an institute promoting eugenics policies under the Vichy regime.
In 1935, Le Corbusier made his first visit to the United States. He was asked by American journalists what he thought about New York City skyscrapers; he responded, characteristically, that he found them "much too small". He wrote a book describing his experiences in the States, Quand les cathédrales étaient blanches, Voyage au pays des timides (When Cathedrals were White; voyage to the land of the timid) whose title expressed his view of the lack of boldness in American architecture.
In the 1930s, Le Corbusier expanded and reformulated his ideas on urbanism, eventually publishing them in La Ville radieuse (The Radiant City) in 1935. Perhaps the most significant difference between the Contemporary City and the Radiant City is that the latter abandoned the class-based stratification of the former; housing was now assigned according to family size, not economic position. Some have read dark overtones into The Radiant City: from the "astonishingly beautiful assemblage of buildings" that was Stockholm, for example, Le Corbusier saw only "frightening chaos and saddening monotony." He dreamed of "cleaning and purging" the city, bringing "a calm and powerful architecture"—referring to steel, plate glass, and reinforced concrete. Although Le Corbusier's designs for Stockholm did not succeed, later architects took his ideas and partly "destroyed" the city with them.
Le Corbusier has been accused of anti-semitism. He wrote to his mother in October 1940, prior to a referendum held by the Vichy government: "The Jews are having a bad time. I occasionally feel sorry. But it appears their blind lust for money has rotted the country". He was also accused of belittling the Muslim population of Algeria, then part of France. When Le Corbusier proposed a plan for the rebuilding of Algiers, he condemned the existing housing for European Algerians, complaining that it was inferior to that inhabited by indigenous Algerians: "the civilized live like rats in holes", while "the barbarians live in solitude, in well-being." His plan for rebuilding Algiers was rejected, and thereafter Le Corbusier mostly avoided politics.
During the War and the German occupation of France, Le Corbusier did his best to promote his architectural projects. He moved to Vichy for a time, where the collaborationist government of Marshal Philippe Petain was located, offering his services for architectural projects, including his plan for the reconstruction of Algiers, but they were rejected. He continued writing, completing Sur les Quatres routes (On the Four Routes) in 1941. After 1942, Le Corbusier left Vichy for Paris. He became for a time a technical adviser at Alexis Carrel's eugenic foundation, he resigned from this position on 20 April 1944. In 1943, he founded a new association of modern architects and builders, the Ascoral, the Assembly of Constructors for a renewal of architecture, but there were no projects to build.
In early 1947 Le Corbusier submitted a design for the headquarters of the United Nations, which was to be built beside the East River in New York. Instead of competition, the design was to be selected by a Board of Design Consultants composed of leading international architects nominated by member governments, including Le Corbusier, Oscar Niemeyer of Brazil, Howard Robertson from Britain, Nikolai Bassov of the Soviet Union, and five others from around the world. The committee was under the direction of the American architect Wallace K. Harrison, who was also architect for the Rockefeller family, which had donated the site for the building.
Le Corbusier's largest and most ambitious project was the design of Chandigarh, the capital city of the Punjab and Haryana States of India, created after India received independence in 1947. Le Corbusier was contacted in 1950 by Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, and invited to propose a project. An American architect, Albert Mayer, had made a plan in 1947 for a city of 150,000 inhabitants, but the Indian government wanted a grander and more monumental city. Corbusier worked on the plan with two British specialists in urban design and tropical climate architecture, Maxwell Fry and Jane Drew, and with his cousin, Pierre Jeanneret, who moved to India and supervised the construction until his death.
Le Corbusier first visited the remote mountain site of Ronchamp in May 1950, saw the ruins of the old chapel, and drew sketches of possible forms. He wrote afterwards: "In building this chapel, I wanted to create a place of silence, of peace, of prayer, of interior joy. The feeling of the sacred animated our effort. Some things are sacred, others aren't, whether they're religious or not."
The High Court of Justice, begun in 1951, was finished in 1956. The building was radical in its design; a parallelogram topped with an inverted parasol. Along the walls were high concrete grills 1.5 metres (4 feet 11 inches) thick which served as sunshades. The entry featured a monumental ramp and columns that allowed the air to circulate. The pillars were originally white limestone, but in the 1960s they were repainted in bright colors, which better resisted the weather.
The Unité d'Habitation marked a turning point in the career of Le Corbusier; in 1952, he was made a Commander of the Légion d'Honneur in a ceremony held on the roof of his new building. He had progressed from being an outsider and critic of the architectural establishment to its centre, as the most prominent French architect.
The 1950s and 1960s, were a difficult period for Le Corbusier's personal life; his wife Yvonne died in 1957, and his mother, to whom he was closely attached, died in 1960. He remained active in a wide variety of fields; in 1955 he published Poéme de l'angle droit, a portfolio of lithographs, published in the same collection as the book Jazz by Henri Matisse. In 1958 he collaborated with the composer Edgar Varèse on a work called Le Poème électronique, a show of sound and light, for the Philips Pavilion at the International Exposition in Brussels. In 1960 he published a new book, L'Atelier de la recherché patiente The workshop of patient research), simultaneously published in four languages. He received growing recognition for his pioneering work in modernist architecture; in 1959, a successful international campaign was launched to have his Villa Savoye, threatened with demolition, declared an historic monument; it was the first time that a work by a living architect received this distinction. In 1962, in the same year as the dedication of the Palace of the Assembly in Chandigarh, the first retrospective exhibit on his work was held at the National Museum of Modern Art in Paris. In 1964, in a ceremony held in his atelier on rue de Sèvres, he was awarded the Grand Cross of the Légion d'honneur by Culture Minister André Malraux.
In 1960, Le Corbusier began a third religious building, the Church of Saint Pierre in the new town of Firminy-Vert, where he had built a Unité d'Habitation and a cultural and sports centre. While he made the original design, construction did not begin until five years after his death, and work continued under different architects until it was completed in 2006. The most spectacular feature of the church is the sloping concrete tower that covers the entire interior. similar to that in the Assembly Building in his complex at Chandigarh. Windows high in the tower illuminate the interior. Le Corbusier originally proposed that tiny windows also project the form of a constellation on the walls. Later architects designed the church to project the constellation Orion.
Le Corbusier died of a heart attack at age 77 in 1965 after swimming at the French Riviera. At the time of his death in 1965, several projects were on the drawing boards; the church of Saint-Pierre in Firminy, finally completed in modified form in 2006; a Palace of Congresses for Strasbourg (1962–65), and a hospital in Venice, (1961–1965) which were never built. Le Corbusier designed an art gallery beside the lake in Zürich for gallery owner Heidi Weber in 1962–1967. Now called the Centre Le Corbusier, it is one of his last finished works.
Few other 20th-century architects were praised, or criticized, as much as Le Corbusier. In his eulogy to Le Corbusier at the memorial ceremony for the architect in the courtyard of the Louvre on 1 September 1965, French Culture Minister André Malraux declared, "Le Corbusier had some great rivals, but none of them had the same significance in the revolution of architecture, because none bore insults so patiently and for so long."
The book became a manifesto for those who opposed the more traditional styles of the decorative arts; In the 1930s, as Le Corbusier predicted, the modernized versions of Louis Philippe and Louis XVI furniture and the brightly colored wallpapers of stylized roses were replaced by a more sober, more streamlined style. Gradually the modernism and functionality proposed by Le Corbusier overtook the more ornamental style. The shorthand titles that Le Corbusier used in the book, 1925 Expo: Arts Deco was adapted in 1966 by the art historian Bevis Hillier for a catalog of an exhibition on the style, and in 1968 in the title of a book, Art Deco of the 20s and 30s. And thereafter the term "Art Deco" was commonly used as the name of the style.
The foundation was established in 1968. It now owns Maison La Roche and Maison Jeanneret (which form the foundation's headquarters), as well as the apartment occupied by Le Corbusier from 1933 to 1965 at rue Nungesser et Coli in Paris 16e, and the "Small House" he built for his parents in Corseaux on the shores of Lac Leman (1924).
Later criticism of Le Corbusier was directed at his ideas of urban planning. In 1998 the architectural historian Witold Rybczynski wrote in Time magazine:
In 2016, seventeen of Le Corbusier's buildings spanning seven countries were identified as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, reflecting "outstanding contribution to the Modern Movement".
Currently, Le Corbusier is 135 years, 4 months and 1 days old. Le Corbusier will celebrate 136th birthday on a Friday 6th of October 2023.
Find out about Le Corbusier birthday activities in timeline view here.