le Corbusier

Le Corbusier (1887 – 1965) was one of the most important and influential modern architects of the 20th Century, and is known for his works in the International Style – a style that crossed national boundaries post World War I in Europe.

Villa Savoye outside Paris is the icon of International Style and reflects le Corbusier’s “Purist ideals in its geometric design and avoidance of ornamentation” (Stokstad, Cothern). The house utilizes the 5 points of architecture considered essential for Modern architecture: 1)pilotis (free-standing posts)  that lift the building above the ground, 2)a flat roof that serves as a garden and terrace, 3)open plan interiors, 4)ribbon windows for light an ventilation, and5) a free façade independent of the load bearing structure.

Unite d’Habitation – Marseilles, France

The Cite Radieuse (Radiant City) in Marseilles was le Corbusier’s post World War II multi-family housing project designed under Unite d’ Habitation design principle. It is also the building that inspired brutalist architecture. Completed in 1952, this vertical city of two-story residences and a communal rooftoop garden was built of beton brut because of steel shortages post World War II. The building is considered highly influential in the world of architecture and is one of the most innovative responses to the acute housing shortages after the war.

The city within a city boasts a kindergarten gym, and paddling pool on the roof deck, as well as shops , medical facilities, and a hotel inside the building. In all le Corbusier designed and built five Unite’ d Habitation housing developments in a span of 15 years– in Marseilles, Reze, Berlin, Briey-en-Foret and Firminy. These all-inclusive housing complexes represented an extraordinary moment in the development of housing in the 20th century.

(Images courtesy le Corbusier foundation).

Le Corbusier… in India

After the partition of Pakistan and India in 1947, the capital of Punjab went to Pakistan, leaving India’s state of Punjab without a capital city. Prime Minister Nehru wanted a city that that looked to the future and showed a modern and progressive India. He selected le Corbusier to design Chandigarh.

Corbusier’s buildings in the tropical climate of Chandigarh show his pact with nature. He has used the brise soleil technique to keep buildings cooler in the harsh sun by adding shade creating areas in the façade of the building while using concrete construction throughout. His signature elements of beton brut construction and brise soliel techniques are evident in the buildings he designed for the capitol complex.

The stark grey concrete simplicity and the organized calm of Chandigarh stands in complete contrast to the chaotic and colorful mess that is India – these 15,000 acres stand as a testament to Nehru and Corbusier’s vision for a modern India.