France • 1887−1965
Le Corbusier, Charles-Edouard Jeanneret-Gris (fr. Le Corbusier, Charles-Edouard Jeanneret-Gris, October 6, 1887, La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland - August 27, 1965, Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France) - Swiss artist, one of the founders of the art direction purism, an architect, the progenitor of brutalism and one of the founders of the international style, the author of many books on architecture.

Features of the work of architect Le Corbusier: mercilessly simplified and replicated a million times in the sleeping areas of any city, the concrete boxes that Le Corbusier invented no longer seem like such an innovative and successful idea. But in the first half of the twentieth century, the ideas of Le Corbusier laid the foundation for all modern urban planning and urbanism. All the architects who worked after him either supported the belief system of the great Swiss, or entered into polemics with it. But they could not ignore his achievements. He called the building “a machine for life”, invented the anthropomorphic system of measures Modulor, which, in his opinion, was supposed to harmonize a person’s presence in space. He preached 5 principles of modern architecture: the building is elevated above the ground on load-bearing supports, the walls, freed from the load-bearing function, are modeled as you like, the facade is also, horizontal ribbon windows provide lighting, you need to arrange a terrace with a garden on a flat roof.

Famous works of Le Corbusier: Chandigarh cityVilla Savoy Chapel of Notre Dame Du Du, Marseille block.

Le Corbusier considered his life a series of failures. There are much more unrealized projects left in his desk than completed ones. All these grandiose reconstructions of Paris and Algeria, the hospital in Venice and the Palace of Soviets in Moscow never took place. Once, near Bordeaux, he built a city block of 60 houses - and the city authorities did not like him so much that they refused to connect these houses to the water supply and sewage systems. He spent most of his professional life traveling: traveling around cities and countries, offering mayors, prime ministers, chief city architects, an exhibition jury and dictators plans for rebuilding cities and neighborhoods. If all these plans were adopted, now a rare country would be left without a building designed by Le Corbusier. But even the fact that the famous Swiss managed to build forever changed the architecture of modern cities, and many of his ideas, which 70-80 years ago seemed vandalism, now look like a visionary prophecy about solving the problems of an overpopulated planet.

In search of the main

It was a time between two world wars. Social responsibility could easily be placed somewhere in the second most important place in the resume of the architect (and the sculptor and the artist): between professional skills and innovative ideas. Providing housing for people attacking dilapidated cities in search of work has become a task almost more important than vain attempts to modernize the architecture.

Le Corbusier did not even have an architectural education: he was born in a small Swiss town, studied in his father's workshop to engrave watches, and then graduated from decorative art courses. He studied architecture on his own and practiced in the studio of already experienced craftsmen: first from the Frenchman Auguste Perret, the one who first used reinforced concrete in construction, and then from the German Peter Behrens, who was a leading architect of industrial buildings, an innovator and revolutionary. So, Le Corbusier began an independent path in architecture, following the footsteps of his great teachers: he built suburban villas with flat roofs and used concrete. Having abandoned architecture for several years, he became an artist (it was difficult, being in Paris in the 1920s, not to start writing), published a magazine about art, together with the artistAmede Ozanfan talking about a new style in painting that followsCubism - purism. By the way, Le Corbusier never left painting - and he painted for several hours every morning. But already in 1922 he returned to architecture in order to change it forever. And the socially significant potential of the building will be decisive for him.

Man as a measure of everything

At the autumn Paris Salon, Le Corbusier presented his first hopeless city project with 60-story buildings, surrounded by parks and a network of roads that will never be built. Three years later, he proposed, according to the same plan, to rebuild a significant part of Paris - to demolish 24 hectares of the city (leaving important cathedrals untouched, of course) and build skyscrapers on this site. This will allow trees to be planted on the freed part of the earth, because the air in the city is murderous for humans. And if we continue to cherish the old two-story villas of the 18th century and the narrow streets, then soon we will simply die from suffocation, Le Corbusier considered.

«Whether it be Oslo, Moscow, Berlin, Paris, Algeria, Port Said, Rio or Buenos Aires - only one solution to the problem is possible everywhere, since the problem itself is the same everywhere: nourish human lungs. (...)
A person is finally saved from the asphyxiation of two summer thunder months, and his housing will be protected from winter cold. And this is for everyone, for everyone. Cities can be spared the threat of air war. To do this, you only need to mobilize the whole Earth", Le Corbusier writes in his book The Radiant City."

Later, after the Second World War, he will develop a universal spatial measure for designing everything - Modulor. And now, not only the human lungs will participate in architectural decisions, but the human body as a whole. Based on the average height of a person 1.82 m, you need to build any building. The image of a man with a raised hand (2.20 m), the very Modulor, will become Le Corbusier's personal symbol - and he will depict it on almost every building that he will build. To remind you that architecture is a way to harmonize the world and the person living in it.

Earth Mobilization

In 2015, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the death of Le Corbusier, an exhibition of his projects opened at the Pompidou Center in Paris. And the French press burst into a flood of accusations: the museum workers cleaned the life of Le Corbusier from dubious and defamatory facts, no one remembers that he was an accomplice to the fascist Vichy regime, everyone lies. This scandal flared up with such fierceness that it called into question the likelihood of Le Corbusier's buildings being considered a UNESCO architectural heritage, which was about to take place.

Disputes do not subside. Was Le Corbusier a man sympathizing with totalitarian ideology, or just a politically naive humanist who was ready to build utopian cities wherever they were allowed and supported? He believed for a long time that the young Soviet power was an ideal springboard for his architectural ideas based on the equality of people, he was for communism. Then more than once claimed that the ideal city is controlled by an architect-dictator. He often contradicted himself. And there is no answer to this question, despite the fact that he carefully preserved all the letters, notes and sketches for posterity, that his life was documented almost every second.

Le Corbusier, in his youth, was blind in one eye and joked that his round glasses should cost half as much. He was married to model Yvonne Gali for 35 years, but was not always faithful to her. He lived in Paris in a two-story apartment, in a house with a glass facade, which he himself designed in 1931. He rested in a tiny wooden hut with an area of 3 m2 on the Mediterranean coast, in which he made built-in furniture, a toilet behind the curtain, a miniature sink and a whiskey cabinet.

For 20 years after the Second World War, Le Corbusier managed to build the most significant buildings: the Marseille block, which initiated mass social construction, designed the whole city of Chandigarh on homeless lands at the foot of the Himalayas, the most unique and atypical Catholic church in Ronshan, the Dominican monastery of Santa Maria de la Tourette. He left the concrete surface uncultivated, raised the buildings to powerful pillars and freed the walls from the bearing function, turned the buildings into sculptural compositions that needed to be circled in order to understand, on the roofs of high-rise buildings he arranged treadmills and stages, inside galleries there were shops galleries .

Le Corbusier died at 78, having sailed for over an hour in the Mediterranean. When in 2016 his best buildings were included in the UNESCO heritage list, 17 objects in 7 countries of the world got into it.

Author: Anna Sidelnikova
Go to biography


View all publications


All exhibitions of the artist
View all artist's artworks
Whole feed