Le Corbusier

“I prefer drawing to talking. Drawing is faster and leaves less room for lies.” This world-famous quote belongs to an architect named Le Corbusier. Also known as the “Father of International Style.” He was born Charles-Edouard Jeanneret-Gris. He emblazoned the spirit of modernism in architecture and ended up with the Bauhaus Movement, or in other words, International Style. In his architecture, he joined the functionalist aspirations of his generation with a strong sense of expressionism. He was the first architect to make a studied use of rough-cast concrete, a technique that satisfied his taste for simplicity and for sculptural forms. Corbusier also pioneered an architectural style called “towers in the park” which can be seen in his Villa Savoye project. It is here where you can see how he designed the house to be close to nature while still having rooms for all members of the family. Whenever you hear the name Le Corbusier, Modern Architecture is lurking about.

Corbusier was born on October 6, 1887, in La Chaux de Fonds, Switzerland. He was a celebrated architect, painter, internationally acclaimed urban planner, writer, and designer. Being the son of a painter and musician and a piano teacher mother, Corbusier’s inclination
towards arts was natural. At the age of 13 Corbusier was enrolled in a local art school where he learned basic techniques of watchmaking as well as art history, drawing, and aesthetics of art nouveau and ended up deciding to become a painter. Once enrolled in school, his teachers
insisted he study architecture.

In the early years of his practical life traveling played a vital role. He frequently moved around Europe including Italy, Paris, and Germany.  Corbusier owes his initial ideas about architecture to these trips for it was after these visits that he started generating his own schemes regarding design. It was during this phase that he learned some golden techniques that remained with him throughout his life. These were the use of geometric forms, incorporation of landscape as an architectural tool, and contrast between large collective spaces and individual compartmentalized spaces.

The initial work Corbusier comprised of smooth buildings with white concrete and glass structures elevated above the ground called “pure prisms.” Later in the 1940’s he took a turn toward a new style called New Brutalism, which used rough, heavy forms of stone, concrete,
stucco, and glass. Another major contribution made by Le Corbusier in the field of architecture was his magazine L’Espirit Nouveau which he started publishing in 1920 and kept issuing until his death. It would be unquestionably true to say that the writings and books of Corbusier have inspired several generations of architects.

He followed principles that are known as Le Corbusier’s Five Points

  1. The first point is the free plan with no restrictions on the size or shape of buildings.
    2. The second point is the use of reinforced concrete as the principal material for all structures, including both roofs and floors.
    3. The third point is an open ground-floor plan to create an impression of space between buildings and to emphasize their height, which should be uniform in scale so that one building would not seem bigger than another.
    4. The fourth point was simple geometrical shapes, such as cylinders and spheres to emphasize vertical lines in order to create more space inside buildings.
    5. The importance of natural lighting.

Corbusier was one of the first architects who thought of designing houses to fit the lifestyles of the people. Said houses have specific spaces which are designed to serve different purposes. He had an interest in how the design should be focused on human needs and not on unnecessary decorative elements. His designs are characterized by their simple clean lines, free from embellishment, and lack of decoration which are related to the modernism movement.

In the late 19th century, a new style of architecture emerged from the European continent. It was known as “Modern Architecture” and was considered a break from the existing Victorian architecture trends. Le Corbusier is often regarded as one of the founders of modern architecture and he is also recognized for his designs for furniture, which were integral to his architectural design process.

He designed his own house in Switzerland, which included a floor plan with distinct areas for living, sleeping, cooking, and entertaining on different levels. The floors had radiant heating and were constructed on concrete slabs on the edge with strips of windows.

It is important to mention the contributions of Le Corbusier to urban and city planning. He was an incredible city planner who discovered new courses for house planning. He introduced people living in congested, underprivileged habitats to hygienic and disciplined environments with fair distribution of open spaces for the flow of fresh air. The best example of all is La Ville Radieuse or the Radiant City. In this ideal city, he made the intelligent division of space into discreet zones of living, working, and leisure. He obsoleted congested streets and sidewalks, and untidy neighborhoods and traded them off with big highways, big
buildings, and big open spaces. Corbusier made the art of building more functional by interconnecting spaces. He gave this lesson to architects that separating activities of daily life is not success but combining them and bringing them together is.

Corbusier was found dead in a swimming pool on August 27, 1965. The sudden death of Corbusier shook the architectural world and left an unfilled cavity. Yet, his writings and books are watering the field of architecture and yielding new ways and discoveries.

At Scarano Architect, PLLC we recognize the contributions of Le Corbusier to the field of architecture. His writings are still used as references today. Combining the knowledge of the past with the finding of the present makes a well-rounded architect. We consider ourselves equipped to handle the most challenging situations. Feel free to check out our award-winning designs on our website. Give us a call and we will be happy to help you in any way we can.

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