Le Corbusier in The Art of Architecture

If in doubt it’s always wise to return to those tried, tested and accomplished I’ve always found, so with this in mind I’d like to turn everyones attention to one of the most marvellous modernist minds, yes you guessed it, Charles-Édouard Jeanneret or as he’s more affectionately known Le Corbusier. Flicking through one of the books we’ve got tucked away in our office archive I was really enjoying the selection of imagery found within, in fact I thought I’d have a quick search around the internet to see if I could find it, when this came to no avail I decided to take matters into my own hands. In the transfer from analogue to digital there was a few casualties, I have managed to salvage this small set of scans however, which I don’t think have been affected too much – being vintage photographs to begin with really helped the cause.

“Le corbusier is regarded as the most important architect of the twentieth century. Through his buildings, books and even his appearance – an homme machine with bow tie and horn-rimmed glasses, he exercised a major influence on the way we view modern architecture, if not the entire modernism movement”. The most prominent example of this for me personally is found within the image just below of the interior space of the Jaoul Villa which was put together by the Swiss mastermind between 1951 and 1955. This style of subtle interior structure is something I come across repeatedly on a daily basis within modern builds, it’s incredible to see how this balance of minimalism and character is still prominent more than 50 years on.

I’m particularly fond of the expression that Charles brought into his designs, he didn’t completely restrict himself to a disciplined structure like Mies van der Roe did for example, he left room for a dash of spontaneity where he felt it was needed. Thats not to disregard the latter who was of course another architectural genius, however Le Corbusier could never be criticised for not bringing charisma to the table in the work he did undertake. The third image here highlights his apartment space with a Tapestry by Fernand Leger on the left, a ceramic sculpture from Peruvia in the centre and his own painting on the right of the photo, a prime example of the surreal ideas that often crept into his work. The fifth image again presents further examples of his spontaneous side, with the enamelled steel door of the parliament building in Chandigarh, 1962 – I’d love to see this up close and personal, it’s so playful and quirky.

One thing that I would have like to have included here, but was unable to because of problems image transferring, is the open hand icon that Le Corbusier used as a recurring motif in his architecture. This was for him a sign of peace and reconciliation which he tried to constantly recreate in the work he put his name to, I do hope that you will use it’s absence here as impetus to go research further yourself into the work of the great designer. Before you do make your way elsewhere I want to reaffirm what the man stood for and the concepts behind his creativity. He wanted his works to be more than a stylistic experiment and his life’s aim was to create work that fundamentally changed how humans interacted with buildings.

For this he introduced a series of his own rules with his five points of architecture seen most frequently in his domestic creations. These rules were based around the principles of elevating the mass off the ground (1), a free plan achieved through the separation of load-bearing columns from the walls (2), the free facade – the corollary of the free plan in the vertical plane (3), the addition of a long horizontal sliding window (4), and to conclude a roof garden resting the area of ground covered by the house (5). For the best example of this I’d divert your attentions to Villa Savoy which was constructed between 1929 and 1931, unsurprisingly this still looks modern.

It’s only when you read into the context and theory behind these iconic designers that can wholesomely appreciate their genius. Hopefully this provides a little food for thought for a few of you to go and learn some more, I can really recommend this book which the imagery found here has been sourced from, alongside the Foundation of Le Corbusier. Enjoy!

You can purchase this book by Le Corbusier in our store, titled ‘Le Corbusier The Art of Architecture’ – www.shop.the189.com/lecorbusier