A founding father of the modernist architectural movement, Le Corbusier (Charles-Édouard Jeanneret) was a Swiss born architect, designer and writer who paved the way for modern design as we know it today. What is astonishing about the ideas of Le Corbusier were how ahead of their time they seemed. Structures and ideas formed in the 1930's look far beyond that of late century design and hold up as the exemplary pieces of modernist architecture.
Villa Savoye: 1928 - 1931
Notre Dame du Haut: 1954
The modernist examination and experimentation of Le Corbusier represented something more than simple aesthetic design. These buildings represented a new way of living, new methods of manufacture and most importantly, an overthrow of the classicist design motives of the present time. From this, Le Corbusier became famous for his untreated concrete exteriors, his bold and yet simple forms which functioned as living spaces rather than decorative extensions. To this day, these ideas still hold up and have helped push architecture forward faster than ever before.
Palace of Assembly: 1953 - 1963
Unitè d'habitation Marseille: 1947 - 1952
To create architecture is to put in order. Put what in order? Function and objects.
- Le Corbusier
Le Corbusier had a philosophical approach to design, wanting to create spaces which enabled modern living and community. These ideas centred on the utopia which architecture could fuel. However, these modernist ideals were not accepted by all. Many have criticised Le Corbusier for this very issue. Indeed, one can see that the buildings above share a resemblance to the aging blocks of government built housing in England. Le Corbusier's utopian ideals inspired architectural movements such as brutalism which fueled bad, cheap design across many cities. Rather than creating a sense of community, one could see how it instead isolates poorer communities and traps them within the confines of an open environment.
It seems clear that many poor design ideas have spawned from the original intentions of Le Corbusier, but this decay and reputation should not tarnish the wonder of Le Corbusier. After all, he was a man beyond his time, with extraordinary ideas and a passion for living space. His work has inspired both good and bad design, but at it's heart, Corbusier's work reinvented what architecture could be. It reflected that the everyday buildings in which we spend our lives are as important as the food we eat. Having such an ambition can only be commended.
The National Museum of Western Art: 1959
Further Reading and References
Le Corbusier at the Barbican - http://www.barbican.org.uk/lecorbusier
The Legacy of Le Corbusier - http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/the-legacy-of-le-corbusier-429194.html