The better part of a century has passed since the Swiss-French Le Corbusier (1887-1965), born Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, declared the above, and yet his legacy is such that his designs feel thoroughly contemporary. Arguably the most brilliant and controversial architect of the 20th century, he achieved colossal success in his field. Revered by architects the world over, Le Corbusier designed more than 300 buildings and wrote 24 books, he was also a keen writer, a theorist, sculptor, furniture designer, and painter.
Why was Le Corbusier so groundbreaking? UNESCO has said his works are a “testimonial to the invention of a new architectural language that made a break with the past”. Most significant were his contributions to Modernism and the International Style, both a vast leap from architectural styles of the time. His designs rejected superfluous ornamentation (an early example of the Ludwig Mies van der Rohe phrase, ‘less is more’), and are characterized by their geometric forms, asymmetrical compositions, and horizontal planes with open floor plans. Other features of Modern architecture include the use of industrial materials—concrete, steel, and glass for natural light, as well as a tendency towards grey, white, or neutral color palettes. Le Corbusier’s views were shaped by important movements of the early 1900s, including Art Nouveau and the Bauhaus. Whatever project he worked on, be it private villas, mass social housing complexes, churches, or public monuments, his designs were always original. Below, we present his ten most significant works from around the world.
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