The bold and passionate contributor to Modern Architecture and urban planning, Le Corbusier (1887-1965) was born Charles-Edouard Jeanneret-Gris on this day in the watchmaking city of La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland. He adopted his pseudonym from his French maternal grandfather.
An accomplished painter, the enigmatic designer said, "I prefer drawing to talking. Drawing is faster, and allows less room for lies."
Le Corbusier celebrated simplicity in architecture. Rejecting the haphazard sprawl of a linear city, he proposed vertical cities, characterized by skyscrapers and high-rise apartments that would create greater space for parks, gardens, and recreation. Using what he called "sun, space, and silence" and "la ville radieuse," or "the city of radiant joy."
"The materials of city planning are: sky, space, trees, steel and cement; in that order and that hierarchy," he said.
His designs used double-height living spaces and modern materials--prefabrication and modular constructions. His heart embraced the lessons of antiquity and classical Mediterranean form. "Architecture, it's a habit of mind, not a profession," he said.
In 1951, he designed the city of Chandigarh, the Capitol complex for India's Punjab. Organized in rectangular sectors, the vast project was a celebration of spectacular office buildings, pools, and pedestrian walks. "Nothing is transmissible except thought," he said.
Considered by many as his greatest work, Notre-Dame-du-Haut pilgrimage chapel (1950-1955) in the Vosges mountains of Ronchamp, France, celebrated sweeping curves, grace, and dramatic light. A synthesis of art, the concrete frame was filled with rubble from the previous medieval church.
He once said, "Architecture is the learned game, correct and magnificent, of forms assembled in the light."
Home--your greatest treasure.