Happy birthday Le Corbusier!

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Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris, or Le Corbusier, (October 6, 1887—August 27, 1965) was a Swiss architect, painter, urban planner, and writer. Much of his work was devoted to modernizing life in urban settings. He was awarded the Frank P. Brown Medal and AIA Gold Medal in 1961.

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Jeanneret-Gris was born in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland to Edouard Jeanneret and Madame Jeannerct-Perrct. He became interested in visual art at a young age, while attending La-Chaux-de-Fonds Art School. In 1907, at the age of 20, he designed his first house. He began to travel around Europe, and in 1907 on a trip to Paris, he found work with Auguste Perret, the French pioneer of reinforced concrete. During his formation studying architecture and design, he studied with Josef Hoffmann and Peter Behrens.

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As he traveled around Europe, a few major aspects of architecture went on to influence his own work: the juxtaposition of large, communal space with small, individual spaces; the use of nature as an architectural guide; and Renaissance-style proportions.

In 1912, he returned to his hometown to open an architectural practice and to teach alongside his childhood teacher, L'Eplattenier. Soon, he produced a series of villas, which put to use his education in reinforced concrete with reinforced concrete columns in an open space. This design guided his designs for the next 10 years.

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In 1917, he moved to Paris and worked on a series of government contracts. During this period, he spent most of his time painting, which earned him more money. He met Cubist painter Amédée Ozenfant, and together the two rejected Cubism as irrational. Before long, they published Après le cubisme (After Cubism) and published L'Esprit Nouveau (The New Spirit), a purist journal. It was around this time that Jeanneret-Gris adopted the title Le Corbusier, hoping to draw a distinction between his work as a painter and architect from his work as a critic.

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In 1923, Jeanneret-Gris and his allies went on to publish Vers une Architecture (Toward a New Architecture), in which they advocated for functional architecture, calling a house "a machine for living in."

From 1925-1926, his ideals became a reality. He built a workers' city of 40 houses near Bordeaux. However, the unusual colors and structures of the houses provoked hostility and therefore they received no utilities and remained uninhabited for six years.

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In 1935, Jeanneret-Gris published La Ville radieuse (The Radiant City). The most important aspect of The Radiant City would be that it would abolish class distinction by assigning space according to family size.

He spent the rest of his life making revolutionary plans for cities like Algiers and Buenos Aires, but could never get the backing to make any of them a reality.

Additional Info

  • Birthday Date: Monday, 06 October 2014
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