Feb 206 min read

Le Corbusier: Exploring the Architectural Landmarks of a Genius

written by

Kishan Thakkar

The Architectural Landmarks of Le Corbusier

image8_8_le corbusier_kaarwan.jpgLe Corbusier © Nemo Lighting 

Le Corbusier is undoubtedly the most respected name in the field of architecture. He created designs and ideas that helped shape the field, and those designs remain with us still.

Le Corbusier was a visionary architect and architectural theorist who shaped the modern world of architecture and whose legacy continues today in the architecture of tomorrow.

In addition to revolutionizing the field of architecture, he introduced a completely new style that continues to inspire and influence architects even today.

Early Days of Le Corbusier

Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris, also known as Le Corbusier, was born on October 6, 1887 in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland.

In his youth, he showed a keen interest in arts and architecture and went on to study at Ecole d’art, La Chau-de-fonds, Switzerland. 

Growing up, his family traveled widely, most notably for a life-changing journey to Greece which fueled a passion for classical architecture.

Philosophy & Books of Le Corbusier

image3_3_le corbusier_kaarwan.jpgLe Corbusier ©

Le Corbusier's architectural philosophy was built on the principles of functionality, minimalism, and the admiration of modernity. He famously coined the phrase "a house is a machine for living," expressing his belief that architecture should serve the practical needs of its users.

His architectural brilliance was not only defined by his iconic designs but also by his groundbreaking philosophy, expressly documented in his influential works.

Let's take a deeper look into Le Corbusier's architectural philosophy, as expressed in his influential works and the principles he developed. We will also explore the must-read publications that he authored, which continue to inspire architects worldwide.

Principle: Functionalism and the Five Points of Architecture

At the core of Le Corbusier's architectural philosophy was the idea of functionality. He believed that a building should serve its occupants efficiently and adapt to their needs. To achieve this, he introduced the "Five Points of Architecture," a set of design principles that revolutionized the field:

image10_10_le corbusier_kaarwan.jpgFive Point of Architecture © Speculative Cities 

1. Pilotis: Le Corbusier raised buildings off the ground using pilotis and reinforced concrete columns. This innovative technique allowed for an open ground floor, enabling better circulation and natural ventilation.

2. Free Plan: He eliminated load-bearing walls on the upper floors, providing flexibility in interior layout and allowing for an open, adaptable space.

3. Free Facade: By detaching the exterior walls from the structural framework, he could design freely without constraints, leading to innovative façades.

4. Ribbon Windows: Horizontal windows stretched along the length of a building, flooding interiors with natural light and offering panoramic views.

5. Roof Garden: Le Corbusier believed in maximizing green space and introduced flat roofs with gardens, merging nature and architecture.

Book Title: "Towards a New Architecture"

image15_15_le corbusier_kaarwan.jpgBook Title: Towards a New Architecture © Dover Publications Inc.

One of Le Corbusier's most renowned works is the book "Towards a New Architecture" (Vers une architecture), published in 1923. In this groundbreaking manifesto, he presented his vision for a new era of architecture.

The key themes of the book includes:

1. Rejecting Tradition: Against ‘ornamental excesses’ of traditional architecture, Le Corbusoer advocated breaking away from historical design principles.

2. Embracing Modern Materials: He championed the use of industrial materials such as concrete, steel, and glass, heralding a new era of construction.

3. The Machine Aesthetic: Le Corbusier drew parallels between architecture and the machine, emphasizing efficiency, standardization, and precision.

4. Functional Beauty: He argued that beauty in architecture should emerge from the harmony between form and function, not from superficial ornamentation.

5. The Home as a Machine for Living: This famous phrase encapsulated his belief that homes should prioritize the comfort and needs of their inhabitants.

"The Modulor" – A Visionary Approach to Design

image2_2_le corbusier_kaarwan.jpgLe Corbusier’s Modulor Man © unsustainablemagazine

Le Corbusier further explored his ideas in "The Modular" (Le Modulor), a system of proportions based on the human scale. This concept, published in 1950, aimed to create harmonious and ergonomic spaces that catered to human dimensions and needs. 

The Modulor became an integral part of his design philosophy, influencing the layout and scale of his architectural masterpieces.

"Urbanisme" – Transforming Cities

image12_12_le corbusier_kaarwan.jpgLe Corbusier's Plan Voisin for Paris. Le Corbusier, from Urbanisme (Paris, 1922)

In "Urbanisme," Le Corbusier addressed the issue of urban planning and advocated for a radical restructuring of cities. He proposed demolishing outdated urban areas and replacing them with functional, efficient, and green spaces.

While not all of his urban planning ideas were realized, they laid the foundation for modern urban design and continue to inform discussions on sustainable cities.

Overall, Le Corbusier's philosophy, as expressed in his books and architectural innovations, remains a guiding light for architects and designers.

His commitment to functionality, modernity, and the harmonious integration of human needs with architectural form has left an indelible mark on the world of architecture.

Le Corbusier’s groundbreaking principles and ideas, as outlined in his influential books are the blueprint for his iconic architectural works that continues to inspire and shape the field of design today. Here are some of his most famous works.

Works of Le Corbusier

1. Villa Savoye

image14_14_le corbusier_kaarwan.jpgVilla Savoye © Dezeen

Situated in Poissy, France, Villa Savoye is a masterpiece of modernist architecture. Its clean lines, raised pilotis, and open floor plan reflects Le Corbusier's "Five Points of Architecture." This iconic villa redefined residential design.

2. Chandigarh Capitol Complex

image7_7_le corbusier_kaarwan.jpgChandigarh Capitol Complex © Dezeen

The Capitol Complex in Chandigarh, India, is a testament to Le Corbusier's urban planning prowess. It houses the High Court, Secretariat, and Legislative Assembly, showcasing his vision for efficient, organized, and functional city spaces.

It is characterized by its Brutalist architectural style, with its massive concrete structures and geometric shapes. The building features clean lines, minimal ornamentation, and large open spaces, creating a sense of grandeur and monumentality.

3. Unité d'Habitation

image1_1_le corbusier_kaarwan.jpgUnité d'habitation © Le Corbusier - World Heritage

Located in Marseille, France, the Unité d'Habitation is a radical housing project that embodies Le Corbusier's ideas about communal living and vertical cities. It features modular apartments, rooftop gardens, and communal areas, all aimed at improving the quality of urban life.

4. Ronchamp Chapel

image11_11_le corbusier_kaarwan.jpgRonchamp Chapel © Dezeen

The Ronchamp Chapel, also known as Notre Dame du Haut, is an architectural marvel nestled in the French countryside. Its organic, sculptural form and innovative use of light and space make it an enduring symbol of spiritual architecture.

Le Corbusier's design for the Ronchamp Chapel was a departure from his earlier works, as he experimented with a more expressive and sculptural approach to architecture, creating a unique and captivating space for worship.

5. Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts

image16_16_le corbusier_kaarwan.jpg© Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts

Harvard University's Carpenter Center is the only building Le Corbusier designed in North America. Its playful use of geometric forms and bold concrete structure make it a must-see for architecture enthusiasts.

6. La Tourette Monastery

image13_13_le corbusier_kaarwan.jpg© Maria Gonzalez

A synthesis of modernist design and monastic traditions, La Tourette Monastery in France exemplifies Le Corbusier's ability to blend spirituality with architectural innovation.

La Tourette Monastery incorporates monastic traditions through its design and function. The building includes spaces for prayer, meditation, and communal living, which are essential elements of monastic life.

7. Villa La Roche

image6_6_le corbusier_kaarwan.jpgVilla La Roche, Paris © Wikipedia

Villa La Roche, located in Paris, is a prime example of Le Corbusier's early work. It showcases his use of bold colors, geometric shapes, and open spaces, making it a landmark in the evolution of modernist residential architecture.

8. National Museum of Western Art

image5_5_le corbusier_kaarwan.jpg© Dezeen

The museum in Tokyo, Japan, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and represents the influence of Le Corbusier throughout the world. Its innovative use of reinforced concrete and open galleries make it an architectural gem.

9. Swiss Pavilion

image4_4_le corbusier_kaarwan.jpgSwiss Pavilion © Fondation Suisse

The Swiss Pavilion at the Cité Internationale Universitaire in Paris is a striking example of Le Corbusier's design sensibilities. Its cantilevered roof and exploration of space defy conventional architectural norms.

The Swiss Pavilion showcases Le Corbusier's signature style with its clean lines, geometric shapes, and use of natural light. Its innovative design not only creates a visually striking structure but also enhances the overall user experience, inviting visitors to explore the space in a unique and engaging way.

The Lasting Impact of Le Corbusier's Architecture

Le Corbusier's impact on architecture cannot be emphasized enough. His philosophy of functionality and innovation, as well as his iconic architectural landmarks, continue to shape the way we think about and create spaces today.

For architecture students, studying his work is not just an exploration of the past but an essential step in understanding the future of architecture.

If you're an aspiring architect or designer looking to expand your knowledge and skills, consider exploring Kaarwan. Kaarwan offers result-oriented workshops for architects and designers worldwide. Our goal is to help our participants achieve their career goals through practical skill-based learning.

Kishan Thakkar

Kishan Thakkar

A content writer with extensive experience in creating content for AEC & Real Estate industries. He is working as a freelance writer, assisting businesses in building a robust online presence through the power of writing and content strategies.