Monuments

La Chaux-de-Fonds, Maison blanche, 1912. Photo: TES.

Le Corbusier and Switzerland

The career of one of Switzerland’s most famous architects started at the School of Art in La Chaux-de-Fonds.

Charles-Edouard Jeanneret, who adopted the pseudonym Le Corbusier in 1920, was born on 6 October 1887 in la-Chaux-de-Fonds (Canton Neuchatel).

After a career as an architect, urban planner, painter, furniture designer, sculptor, and theoretician. He wrote many articles and books on art in general and painting and architecture in particular. He died on 27 August 1965 as French citizen (since 1930).

Le Corbusier built his first villa in 1905 (the villa Fallet). One year later he started his tour to the Orient, Austria, Italy, France, Hungary, and Germany (1906-1912), in the heydays of the Vienna Session (Wiener Secession), Vienna Workshop (Wiener Werkstätte), and Jugendstil (Art Nouveau).

He got acquainted with the works of Walter Gropius (1883-1969), Mies van de Rohe (1886-1969 and Peter Behrens (1868-1940).

He became familiar with the modern movement in art and architecture in Paris. He built two other villas in La Chaux-de-Fonds in 1908 (villa Stotzer, and villa Jaquemet).

He opened his office in La Chaux-de-Fonds. He built the Maison blanche in La Chaux-de-Fonds and the villa Favre-Jacot in Le Locle. He also designed the Villa Turque.

He moved to Paris in 1907, painting in the morning and working as an architect in the afternoon. Le Corbusier designed many public and private buildings in France and the Francophone world but also experienced disappointments.

His designs (1927-1929) for the World City and the international World Museum. The Mundaneum never materialized.

He built two other villas in Switzerland (villa Le Lac in Corseaux (1923/1924) and the Clarté apartment in Geneva (1932).

Le Corbusier introduced innovative works and revolutionary doctrines in the fields of construction and architecture.

The Pavillon Le Corbusier in Zurich (www.pavillon-le-corbusier.ch) and the Maison Blanche in La Chaux-de-Fonds (www.maisonblanche.ch) tell the story of his life and work. (Source: C. Courtiau, Le Corbusier. Education and Training, Projects and Constructions in Switzerland, Bern 2012).