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Le Corbusier : architect biography

famous architect : Le Corbusier [page1] [page2]





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Le Corbusier
Le Corbusier
Le Corbusier
Le Corbusier
Le Corbusier

Le Corbusier

Even as Le Corbusier completed the ultimate purist house. Villa Savoye (1931), and implemented his first glass curtain walls at the Centrosoyus and Cité de Refuge, a shift in the direction of his work and life became apparent. The female figure and other natural forms emerged in his painting as objects "a reaction poetique" (objects of poetic reaction) to be distinguished from the objets-types of his earlier compositions. Natural materials in a rough state appeared in his rural dwellings, then, coupled with more sophisticated technology, in his urban works, such as the Pavilion Suisse (1932).

This revived interest in the natural, from a new perspective. was a consequence of his experience with the real limits of modem construction technology and also of a set of inspiring travels to tropical landscapes: Brazil (1928) and Algiers (1929). His nights with Antoine de Saint-Exupery over the coast of Rio instigated a series of plans for sinuous viaduct cities. Similarly, his journey to the Soviet Union was in part responsible for the revision of his first Contemporary City as the Radiant City (1931).Besides this second bout of travel, the event most significant to Le Col-busier's life in this period was his marriage in 1930 to Yvonne Gallis, a model and couturier from Monaco. Le Corbusier subsequently adopted French citizenship.

With the worsening economic situation throughout Europe and the strenuous opposition to his ideas evident in some circles, Le Corbusier failed to secure any further large commissions and turned increasingly to urban planning and writing. Le Corbusier produced plans for almost every city in which Le Corbusier lectured or built: Geneva, Antwerp, and Stockholm in 1933, Hellocourt, Zlin, and Paris in 1935. This ongoing investigation of urban form produced plans for a "linear city." In 1935. at the invitation of the Museum of Modem Art, Le Corbusier traveled to the United States for the first time. America, especially New York City, aroused both his enthusiasm and his disgust. There the skyscraper existed, but without the guidance of a plan, thus, without satisfying the "fundamental needs of the human heart."

Many of Le Corbusier 's writings of the period stemmed from his involvement with the Syndicalists, a politically ambiguous group who held that the means of production should be owned and managed by independent groups of workers (syndicats). Le Corbusier became an active contributor to the syndicalist journals Plan and Prelude. Through the membership of its editorial board. Prelude had a connection to the Italian fascist movement. Le Corbusier 's own connection with Italian fascism was fleeting, lasting only as long as Mussolini was interested in his ideas of the Radiant City.

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Le Corbusier - at vitruvio.ch

Despite his varying fortune, in the thirties Le Corbusier established a fulfilling pattern of life and work. Mornings Le Corbusier would paint in his studio at Porte Molitor. His wife, a gourmet cook, would prepare lunch for them. Afternoons Le Corbusier would spend in his office on rue de Sevres, working with tits young, international employees on architectural projects. At least one evening a week, Le Corbusier and Jeanneret would join a fierce game of basketball in the dance studio/gym of his brother Albert. Periodically Le Corbusier vacationed on the Mediterranean, near Cap Martin, where Le Corbusier would take olympian swims.

With the onset of World War II, Le Corbusier left with Jeanneret for Ozon, in the Pyrenees. Their partnership ended in 1940, when Jeanneret left for Switzerland and joined the Resistance, while Le Corbusier approached his Syndicalist friends in power at Vichy in hopes of finding there an authority to implement his ideas for reconstruction. For eighteen months Le Corbusier attempted to make his way in Vichy circles, first as part of a commission to study housing, and then as an increasingly annoying advocate of his own plan for Algiers. Le Corbusier left Vichy in 1943, after Algerian authorities had denounced him as a Bolshevik.

After Liberation, Le Corbusier was able to take part in the reconstruction of France. Under the auspices of the Ministry of Reconstruction, Le Corbusier began plans for the port of Marseille, which culminated in the construction of his first Unite d'habitation. Le Corbusier prepared plans for the towns of St-Die and La Rochelle. Le Corbusier was selected as French delegate to the architectural commission of the United Nations. For a moment it seemed that many years of somewhat self-imposed martyrdom had borne fruit. Le Corbusier told an interviewer in New York, "For thirty years Fd been a consultant talking in a desert. Since 1945, I've led the architectural movement in France. I have arrived at a stage where things in my life flower, like a tree in season."

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By 1950, this moment had passed; no city had accepted his plans. The U.N. disappointed him by making Wallace Harrison chief architect in the execution of a design Le Corbusier considered his own. The United States delegation to UNESCO refused to accept him on the design team. Despite this litany of official rejection and the bitterness it engendered, Le Corbusier entered on a productive period marked by the emergence of a well-defined aesthetic based on the plastic use of exposed concrete. Projects for several Unites, the chapel at Ronchamp (1954), the convent at LaTourette (1957), and the city plan and state architecture for Chandigarh, India, filled the decade.

Le Corbusier brought to bear on the Unite and all his subsequent architecture the research Le Corbusier had conducted during the war on the Modulor, a rule of proportion that applies the geometric properties of quadrature and the Golden Section to the measure of the human body. Le Corbusier had previously used these geometric properties, in the spirit of Auguste Choisy, as traces régulcueurs (regulating lines) for proportioning designs. Now Le Corbusier developed a system of measure in relation to man. Through the ladder of Golden Sections called the Fibonacci Series, Le Corbusier extended his intial Modulor to infinitely large and small dimensions. Le Corbusier asserted both its aesthetic value and utility as a standardized scale. Le Corbusier understood the Modulor as part of a great tradition extending back to Renaissance anthropometries, to Vitruvius and Pythagoras.

In his "Poem to the Right Angle" (1947-1953). Le Corbusier engaged in another exploration of man's relation to the cosmos, one belonging less to the rational humanist tradition of the Modulor and more to a personal spiritualism rooted in his attachment to nature and, perhaps, to the dualistic conceptions of spirit and matter from his Catharist heritage. The poem's images, such as the open hand and the bull, appear in the form of emblemata painted or engraved on his late buildings and in his dramatic use of natural elements, such as light, shadow, and water.

Toward the end of the 1950s, Le Corbusier withdrew more from social life and spent increasing periods of time at his cabin in Cap Martin. His wife had died in 1957, a blow from which some say Le Corbusier never totally recovered. Despite this partial retirement, Le Corbusier had as many architectural commissions as ever. Although these late works do not fall easily into a single category, many retreat from the primitivism of his Indian architecture toward a refined handling of materials, including steel; in them Le Corbusier reexamined his earlier vocabulary. Le Corbusier was at work on a project that promised to be of major significance in terms of his own development, the Venice Hospital, when, in 1965, Le Corbusier died of a heart attack while swimming in the Mediterranean.

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