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Le Corbusier, Leader of the International Style

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Architect Le Corbusier circa 1938 with pipe, bow tie, round rimmed glasses

Le Corbusier, circa 1938

Photo by Hudson/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images
Le Corbusier pioneered modernism in architecture and laid the foundation for what became the Bauhaus Movement, or the International Style.

Born:

October 6, 1887 in La Chaux de Fonds, Switzerland

Died:

August 27, 1965 in Cap Martin, France

Name at Birth:

Born Charles-Edouard Jeanneret-Gris, Le Corbusier adopted his mother's maiden name in 1922 when he set up a partnership with his cousin, engineer Pierre Jeanneret.

Early Training:

  • Art education, La Chaux de Fonds
  • Studied modern building construction with Auguste Perret in Paris
  • Worked with Austrian architect Josef Hoffmann

Most Famous Buildings:

Other Important Works:

  • 1922: Ozenfant House and Studio, Paris
  • 1946-1952: Unité d'Habitation, Marseilles, France
  • 1953-1957: Museum at Ahmedabad, India
  • 1950-1963: High Court Buildings, Chandigarh, India
  • 1950-1955: Notre-Dame-du-Haut, Ronchamp, France
  • 1954-1956: Maisons Jaoul, Neuilly-sur-Seine, Paris
  • 1957-1960: Convent of La Tourette, Lyon France
  • 1958: Philips Pavilion, Brussels
  • 1961-1964: Carpenter Center, Cambridge, MA
  • 1963-1967: Centre Le Corbusier, Zürich, Switzerland

Writings:

  • 1927: Vers une architecture [Towards a new Architecture]
  • 1942: La Maison des hommes [The Home of Man]
  • 1947: Quand les cathédrales étaient blanches [When the Cathedrals Were White]

Theories:

In his book Vers une architecture, Le Corbusier described "5 points of architecture" that became the guiding principles for many of his designs, most especially Villa Savoye.
  1. Freestanding support pillars
  2. Open floor plan independent from the supports
  3. Vertical facade that is free from the supports
  4. Long horizontal sliding windows
  5. Roof gardens
An innovative urban planner, Corbusier anticipated the role of the automobile and envisioned cities with big apartment buildings in park-like settings.

Quotes:

  • "The house is a machine for living in." (Vers une architecture, 1923)
  • "By law, all buildings should be white."

About Le Corbusier:

During his long life, Le Corbusier designed buildings in Europe, India, and Russia. Le Corbusier also designed one building in the United States and one in South America.

The earlier buildings by Le Corbusier were smooth, white concrete and glass structures elevated above the ground. He called these works "pure prisms." In the late 1940s, Le Corbusier turned to a style known as "New Brutalism," which used rough, heavy forms of stone, concrete, stucco, and glass.

The same modernist ideas found in Le Corbusier's architecture were also expressed in his designs for simple, streamlined furniture. Immitations of Le Corbusier's chrome-plated tubular steel chairs are still made today.

Le Corbusier is perhaps best known for his innovations in urban planning and his solutions for low income housing. Le Corbusier believed that the stark, unornamented buildings he designed would contribute to clean, bright, healthy cities. Le Corbusier's urban ideals were realized in the Unité d'Habitation, or the "Radiant City," in Marseilles, France. The Unite incorporated shops, meeting rooms, and living quarters for 1,600 people in a 17-story structure. Today, visitors can stay at the Unite in the historic Hotel Le Corbusier.

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