Le Corbusier

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Le Corbusier (October 6, 1887–August 27, 1965) was the pseudonym of Charles Edouard Jeanneret-Gris. He was an architect famous for what is now called the International style, along with Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Walter Gropius, and Theo van Doesburg. He also designed furniture.

Born in La Chaux-de-Fonds, a small town of Neuchâtel canton in northwestern Switzerland, just across the border from France, Le Corbusier was attracted to the visual arts and studied under the tutelage of the teacher at the local arts school, Charles L'Éplattenier, who had himself studied in Budapest and Paris. He himself designed his earliest houses, like the Villa Fallet, the Villa Schwob, and the Villa Jeanneret (the latter of which was for his parents) in La Chaux-de-Fonds. These houses recall the indigenous mountainous vernacular architectural styles popular in the Alps. Frequently in his early years he would escape the somewhat provincial atmosphere of his hometown by travelling around Europe. In about 1907 he travelled to Paris, where he found work in the office of the French pioneer in reinforced concrete, Auguste Perret, and between October 1910 and March 1911 he worked for the renowned architect Peter Behrens near Berlin, where he met a young Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and became fluent in German. Both of these experiences proved influential in his later career. Later in 1911 he would journey to the Balkans and visit Greece and Turkey, filling sketchbooks with renderings of what he saw, including many famous sketches of the Parthenon, whose forms he would later praise in his work Vers une architecture (1923). He moved to Paris permanently at the age of 29 in 1916 and in 1920 adopted "Le Corbusier", slightly altered from his maternal grandfather's name "Le Corbesier", as a pseudonym.

Le Corbusier was at his most influential in the sphere of urban planning, and was a founding member of the Congres Internationaux d'Architecture Moderne. One of the first to realize how the automobile would change human agglomerations, Le Corbusier described the city of the future as consisting of large apartment buildings isolated in a park-like setting on pilotis. Le Corbusier's theories were adopted by the builders of public housing in the United States. For the design of the buildings themselves, Le Corbusier said "by law, all buildings should be white" and criticized any effort at ornamentation. The large spartan structures, in cities, but not of cities, have been widely criticized for being boring and unfriendly to pedestrians. The city plan of Brasília was based on his ideas.

Le Corbusier was heavily influenced by the problems he saw in the industrial city of the turn of the century. He thought that industrial housing techniques led to crowding, dirtiness, and a lack of a moral landscape. He was a leader of the modernist movement to create better living conditions and a better society through housing concepts.

Ebenezer Howard's Garden Cities of To-morrow heavily influenced Le Corbusier and his contemporaries.


related: PhilipsPavilion, PoemeElectronique


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