Le Corbusier was a prominent 20th century figure especially known for architecture and urban planning. His modern steel, glass, and concrete buildings became the foundation of contemporary architecture. He and his ideas were controversial in his time and continue to perplex those who study his works today. For more on this influential designer, here are the following facts:
1. His real name is Charles-Édouard Jeanneret.
- He first used the pseudonym in an art magazine he launched called “L’Esprit Nouveau.” He created the pen name to separate his architectural work from his other writings.
- The moniker comes from his maternal grandfather’s name, Lecorbésier.
2. Le Corbusier was born in La Chaux-de-Fonds, a small Alpine town known for watchmaking.
- His mother taught piano while his father enameled and engraved watches.
- Jeanneret’s family wished for him to follow in his father’s footsteps. He studied watchmaking for three years at the municipal art school.
3. He was a self-taught architect and considered himself anti-school.
- Le Corbusier left the art school at thirteen years-old. He described the academic institution as “no fun” and “very mean.”
- He learned through books, museums, and travel. He visited Western and Eastern Europe, filling around 80 sketchbooks with studies.
4. Jeanneret and Amédée Ozenfant founded Purism.
- They developed a style which preserved the purity and wholeness of geometric forms. It represented the modern and industrial trend of the interwar period.
- The movement is a rejection of Cubism and Futurism. Their manifesto, “Après le Cubisme” (After Cubism), dismisses the former as decorative with no purpose.
5. He created the guiding principles for present-day architecture.
- His manifesto “The Five Points of a New Architecture” pioneered pylons, open floor plans, free facades, horizontal windows, and roof terraces.
- He also championed grid style urban planning and housing blocks for cities with dense populations.
6. Le Corbusier had contentious political views.
- He supported Communism and Stalin after the Wall Street Crash of 1929. He designed buildings for the USSR before it adopted Socialist Realism and revived the neoclassical style.
- Jeanneret turned to Fascism and lectured in Rome upon invitation from Mussolini. He wished to redevelop the Algiers under pro-Nazi Marshal Philippe Petain, but was refused.
7. Le Corbusier owned a black-haired schnauzer.
- He named the dog Pinceau, meaning “Paintbrush”.
- After Pinceau’s death, Jeanneret bound a copy of “Don Quixote” using the dog’s skin and fur.
8. He died while swimming, against his doctor’s advice.
- Le Corbusier allegedly died of a heart attack during a swim in the Mediterranean Sea. He was at his self-built summer home in Southeast France.
- His funeral was held at the courtyard of the Louvre, presided by the French Minister of Culture.
With his radical theories, Le Corbusier changed the way people viewed shared spaces. Pieces of his influence live on in the modern cities designed by today’s many architects.
To learn more about other inspiring architects, check out their interesting facts here.