If you are an architect or a designer, or an aspiring one then you indubitably know about the icon of Modernism, Le Corbusier. He is the man behind designing Chandigarh- one of India's first planned cities. You might know about his Ronchamp Chapel, Maison de la Culture, or his unfulfilled plan for the Radiant City, but did you know his real name or that a banknote carrying his picture? SURFACES REPORTER (SR) has compiled 10 amazing yet lesser-known facts about the notable architect. Scroll down to read. Sadly, you might not feel good after knowing a few facts.
Palace of Assembly · Chandigarh, India
1. Actual Name
His real name is Charles-Édouard Jeanneret. He took his maternal grandfathers’ name Le Corbusier in 1920 to separate his architectural work from his other works.
2. No Formal Degree in Architecture
Le Corbusier was one of those great architects who never had formal academic education in architecture. He learned all about architecture and design by reading books, visiting museums, travelling and sketching buildings. In an interview on BBC in 1951, he revealed that he left school when he was 13 years-old because 'schools were very mean in the past, they were no fun.”
Maison de la Culture · Firminy, France
3. Engraved Watch Cases
He also accompanied his father in his watchmaking business in the early years of his life. He learned to engrave watch cases to support his father.
4. Nearly Blind in One Eye
Le Corbusier used to wear glasses, and by 1918 he lost the sight of one eye. Therefore, he sometimes joked that his spectacles, whose circular horn rims became almost a trademark, should be half-priced accordingly.
Notre-Dame-du-Haut · Ronchamp, France
5. His So-Called Friend’s Unpleasant Remark
Although the taste of Le Corbusier was not ordinary, and thus his buildings exemplify extraordinary designs. His professed friend and surrealist painter Salvador Dali called him “A Pitiable Creature” and described his buildings as “the ugliest and most unacceptable buildings in the world” after Le Corbusier’s death in 1965.
6. Unsuccessful Marriage and Many Affairs
Le Corbusier married a fashion model Yvonne Gallis, in 1930. Although he loved his wife that did not stop him from having a short-term affair with French entertainer Josephine Baker and a serious long-term affair with a Swedish-American heiress Marguerite Tjader Harris.
7. Abandoned Architecture for Painting
He was an ingenious painter who had left architecture for painting for almost four years and made a new movement in the domain of French art called “Purism.” He was a marvelous abstract painter who produced around 450 oil paintings throughout his lifetime.
Annibal Simla by Le Corbusier (1951), Oil on Canvas
8. Eccentric Lover
After the death of his wife, Le Corbusier kept a gruesome reminder- a vertebrae bone extracted from Yvonne's backbone in the pocket of his trousers. He kept the same with him for at least 8 years. And he never took it out except when he was sitting on his work desk where he would place it in front of him to look at.
9. Name Featured on the Banknote
Le Corbusier is an influential architect whose name and works are featured on the Swiss 10 franc banknote. Also, Argentine and Canada streets are named after him.
10. Strange Death
Once the Swiss-French architect quoted saying, “How nice it would be to die swimming toward the sun!” And he died in 1965 while swimming in the Mediterranean Sea, against his doctor’s advice. He denied taking anyone’s help around him while climbing up the rocks. His body later found washed up on the shore with the cause of death being a heart attack. He was 77-year old when he died.
The architect was buried alongside his wife’s grave and a peculiar concrete structure which is looking a lot like his own iconic designs was built upon his tombstone.
Sources: ChandigarhMetro and BarcelonaDesigns
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