Le Corbusier – An Urbanist Dream

Le Corbusier (1887-1965)

Le Corbusier, born Charles-Edouard Jeanneret-Gris in Switzerland, was an erudite and well travelled architect, writer, designer, urbanist and painter who also had quite a penchant for ancient history and studied Greek temples profusely. Considered one of the pioneers of Modern Architecture, his expansive work is monumental in its appeal to a wide variety of audience as well as its impact in the field of architecture. He  introduced five important points of architecture: pilotis (which raised and made a building look like as if it is floating above the ground), the ‘Free Plan’ where space use is maximized without the need for walls, the ‘Free Façade’ in which the function of each room/space dictated the structure’s façade which states that form follows function,  creating a roof garden to compensate for the area that the building used, and lastly the use of strip windows which enabled natural light to flow in. These five aspects can all be seen in one of his greatest works, the Villa Savoye in Poissy, Frace. Le Corbusier also had a ‘Modular’ system wherein he used the golden ratio for the scale of architectural proportion just like Vitrivius and Leonardo da Vinci. 

He was hired by the Chandigarh government to design the new modernist capital city of Punjab after the original architect Matthew Nowicki was killed in a plane crash on a return flight from India on August 31, 1950. His influence on the city is profound and can be witnessed anywhere from the free standing art works (‘The Open Hand’) to the division of the city into sectors.

We are so inspired by his multi-faceted work which can be seen not only in India, but in Eastern Europe, Russia, and also South America. As an urbanist, his goal was to build cities that would provide better living conditions for citizens of crowded cities. Monumental in scale, but simple in its exterior appeal, the buildings and other works of art he created continue to draw in audiences thanks to his ideas on marrying together form and usability. Although the extensive use of concrete in his monuments does seem somewhat stark and his use of color was kept to a minimal even though his paintings are quite vibrant.

Interesting note: Le Corbusier died of a heart attack while swimming in the Mediterranean, against his doctors wishes. Salvador Dalí is said to have sent a tribute of flowers at Corbusier funeral, despite them both being artistic enemies. 

“His influence was universal and his works are invested with a permanent quality possessed by those of very few artists in our history”. – US President Lyndon B. Johnson

Matthew Nowicki, the original architect the Chandigarh government hired stand infront of the city’s plan, was killed in a plane crash.

Le Corbusier became his replacement.Corbusier with his colleagues 

Corbusier with his cousin Jeanneret

Jeanneret & Corbusier at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Secretariat in Chandigarh

Indian laborors working at one of Corbusiers sites

Construction of the Secretariat

Corbusier (right) at the Secretariat

Capitol High Court, Chandigarh

Palace of Assembly, 2006

Secreteriat Building, 2006

The Open Hand Monument in Chandigarh. It represented Corbusiers’ thoughts on “peace and reconciliation. It is open to give and open to receive.” 

Corbusier Villa in Delhi, India

Ronchamp Chapel

Ronchamp Chapel interior space

Corbusier with a design of Villa Savoye

The famed Villa Savoye in France

Inner courtyard of Villa Savoye. The use of terrace gardens are still in use in homes all over Chandigarh.

An artists’ rendition of Villa Savoye

Heidi Weber Museum, Zurich

[VIA Wikipedia, FourTwentyTwo, Villa Savoye, & New York Times]

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  1. Barbara Cohen says:

    Wht did he do during world War II? Was he involved in the Resistance or did he stay quiet while the Nazis were occupying France?

  2. Sanyam Bahga says:

    Two of the images used in your article captioned as “Secreteriat Building, 2006″ and “Capitol High Court, Chandigarh” fall under the “Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 license” and therefore I request you to kindly attribute the images to their author “Sanyam Bahga”.

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