Le Corbusier, next stop

On October 6, 1887, Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris, known as Le Corbusier, architect, urban planner, sculptor, painter and man of letters, was born in Switzerland; naturalized in France in 1930. Considered as one of the exponents of modern architecture, but the most influential of the twentieth century. After World War II he devoted himself to using materials based on concrete, iron and glass.

He used in his works the simple and simple lines, but giving a functionality to his buildings. Of course, this concept and his modernism produced controversy at the time. However, he was a tireless cultural agitator, this being his passion throughout his life. He died on August 27, 1965 in France, while swimming at his beach house, from a heart attack. 

He left a legacy that, despite producing controversy, has served as a study and learning for postmodernism, being considered a renovator and great figure of modern architecture, culture and art of the last century; leaving his contribution to the modern movement. 

In 2016, 51 years after his disappearance, 17 of his architectural works were inscribed by Unesco as World Heritage Sites, which are distributed among 7 different countries; thus consecrating his renovating style on the habitat. 

Which were the 17 works of Le Corbusier declared World Heritage by Unesco?

Charles-Edouard Jeanneret adopted the alias Le Corbusier in 1920, when he began to be known for his architectural works, taking this name from his maternal grandfather named Lecorbesier. The 17 works declared World Heritage are located in countries such as France, Switzerland, Belgium, Germany, Japan, India and Argentina. 

They are distributed as follows: we have 10 in France, 2 in Switzerland, 1 in Belgium, 1 in Germany, 1 in Japan, 1 in India and 1 in Argentina; which were made between 1923 and 1955. If we order the 17 works by year, we obtain the following:

  • Corseaux, Switzerland, 1923. Small house on the shores of Lake Geneva. 
  • Pessac, France, 1924. Frugès neighborhood. 
  • Paris, France, 1923 – 1925. Villa La Roche-Jeanneret.
  • Antwerp, Belgium, 1926. Guiette House.
  • Stuttgart, Germany, 1927. Houses of the Weissenhof-Siedlung. 
  • Poissy, France, 1928. Savoy Villa. 
  • Geneva, Switzerland, 1930. Clarté Building. 
  • Paris, France, 1931 – 1934. Porte Molitor building.
  • Saint-Dié, France, 1946. Manufacture. 
  • Marseilles, France, 1947. Housing Unit of Marseilles. 
  • La Plata, Argentina, 1949. Curutchet House.
  • Ronchamp, France, 1950-1955. The chapel of Notre Dame du Haut. 
  • Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France, 1951. Le Corbusier’s hut. 
  • Chandigarh, India, 1952. Chandigarh Capitol Complex. 
  • Eveux-sur-l’Arbresle, France, 1953 and 1960. The Convent of St. Mary de la Tourette.
  • Tokyo, Japan, 1955. National Museum of Western Fine Arts Taito-Ku. 
  • Firminy, France, between 1964 and 1969. The House of Culture. 

In Marseille, France, The Unité d’Habitation de Marseille:

It is one of the most famous buildings in Marseille, as a good solution to the problems regarding collective housing; also known as “Shining City or Cité Radieuse”. The Housing Unit was built between 1947 and 1952 with a concrete building and raised above the ground, also with huge pilotis, made of the same material.

Its rectangular shape measures 56 m high by 140 m long and 24 m wide. A building with a capacity for 360 apartments, with 23 different types of duplexes, depending on the number of family members and spread over 12 floors. Each floor has a total of 58 apartments. 

The terrace is a flat, communal type roof, with ventilation chimneys that have some form of sculpture. The rooftop has the services of an infirmary, a nursery, an athletics track, an indoor gymnasium, a small swimming pool, and an auditorium, but in the open air. 

Also, in addition to the apartments there are some commercial services such as a bakery, cafeteria, grocery stores, bookstore and a hotel with its restaurant. As we can see, everything is very well thought out, so that the mini-city lacks nothing.

In Ronchamp, France, the Chapel of Notre Dame du Haut:

Towards the region of Franche-Comté, in the district of Canton de Champagney and Lure, is located the city of Ronchamp, well known basically for the architectural work of Le Corbusier: the Chapel of Notre Dame du Haut; built between 1950 and 1955 for the activity of Catholicism.

The building was erected on a hill, which opens to the beautiful landscape that so fascinated Le Corbusier when he visited it for the first time, surrounded by mountains and forests; a poem for the architect. The structure was made of concrete and masonry, but adding curved shapes, reflecting the connection with the environment and abandoning the standard principles used until then. 

The church is located in the central part of the hill. Then, the 4 cardinal points also have different elements; for example, to the north is located a stepped pyramid, built with the remains of the old church, reflecting a symbol of peace; then to the south is located the residential part of the nuns; finally, to the west and east ends for some acts of pilgrims and the structure of the bells.

In Eveux-sur-l’Arbresle, France, the Convent of Saint Marie de la Tourette:

This convent was erected in a rural area, at the level of a hill, about 26 km from the city of Lyon, in France. The director of the Order of the Dominicans, Reverend Couturier, was in charge of contacting the architect for this new monastery, for the Community of the Dominicans. 

For them Le Corbusier was the right one for this construction, because of his life style: disciplined and very self-sacrificing. So the architect found the perfect design that was compatible with the life of these Dominican monks: a building in a rectangular-shaped courtyard, with cells of very rectilinear shapes.

That is, it has no lightness, rather it is a grid that is continuously repeated horizontally and with a concrete base; giving the appearance of severity and strength. Both this work and the previous one, of the Church of Notre Dame, almost coincide in the dates; and we can observe two completely opposite works, two very radical styles.

In Firminy-Vert, France, the House of Culture: 

In 1953 Eugéne Claudius-Petit was elected mayor of Firminy and contacted his friend, Le Corbusier, to develop an urban planning project in this area, which would have all the necessary amenities; thus creating a new district. So, the work began in 1955, but unfortunately it could not be completely finished. 

Firminy Vert consists of a series of modern buildings, which include a Housing Unit, a municipal stadium, the Saint-Pierre Church and a culture and youth center. All this is based on modern architecture, but for lack of the necessary funds it could not be completed; only 1 residential building could be built, although everything was projected for 3500 housing units.

Likewise, the church remained pending, until in 2003 it could be realized, long after his death; however, its interior is amazing and very impressive; many compare it to the Church of Notre Dame in Ronchamp.

Posted in Europe, France.