Discover the pioneering architect's work and his impact on architecture
Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, who became known as Le Corbusier, was a Swiss-French architect, designer, painter, urban planner and one of the pioneers of what we now called modernist architecture. Le Corbusier’s career spanned five decades and he designed buildings in Europe, Japan, India and North and South America.
The architect completed his first building at age 18 and went on to dedicating his life to providing better living conditions for the residents of crowded cities. He was a founding member of the Congrès International d'Architecture Moderne (CIAM) and also came up with Les cinq points de l'architecture moderne (The Five Points of Modern Architecture) in 1925.
The principles were co-authored with his cousin, Pierre Jeanneret and summarized lessons Le Corbusier had learned in previous years and then put into practice. The points included various features the architect felt each modern building should have, including buildings built on concrete pylons, flat roof terraces rather than sloping ones, open plan interiors with columns instead of load-bearing walls, ribbon windows to allow equal light in all rooms and a free facade, which encouraged the use of glass facades to keep the building light and open.
Modernist architecture emerged at the end of the 19th century from revolutions in technology, engineering and building materials, and from a desire to break away from historical architectural styles and to invent something that was purely functional and new. Le Corbusier championed this approach and in each project utilized the space and materials available to him to create buildings that he saw as a force for change.
Here we take a virtual tour of 12 of the architect’s most significant buildings and better understand the principles that drove him.
Le Corbusier standing on stage with notes in his hand and drawing on a sketch pad during a lecture (From the collection of LIFE Photo Collection)
1. Villa Jeanneret-Perret, La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland
2. Maison Guiette, Antwerp, Belgium
3. Villa Savoye, Poissy, France
4. Unite d’habitation, Marseille, France
5. Curutchet house, La Plata, Argentina
6. United Nations Secretariat Building, New York, USA
7. Notre Dame du Haut, Ronchamp, France
8. La Tourette, Éveux, France
9. National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, Japan
10. Carpenter Center, Massachusetts, USA
11. Saint-Pierre, Firminy, France
12. Pavillon Le Corbusier, Zürich, Switzerland