Corbusier ZH

Realizations based on the theory of architecture by Le Corbusier are always worthy of visit. Passing through Zurich (CH) allows to discover another fine example of a villa he designed in the neighborhood of the old town. Within walking distance from the lake Zurich the spacious building allows just like the Paris example for an exhibition of art work within the villa. Horizontally stretched windows and a terrace on the roof make these villas look very modern. Rooftop bars and restaurants just stage a revival in inner cities as cool locations. Le Corbusier anticipated this long ago. Theories can have a long half value time of lasting.

The materials applied in the realizations were obviously less durable. This is the reason why the villa had been closed for renovations for many years. The reopening now shows the splendid views from inside out as well as from the outside. Colors are especially interesting in this example. Nothing is left to or build by chance. The Design language is spelled out in each detail down to door handles. An ongoing exhibition about the deterioration of materials and in some cases even toxic materials helps to understand the necessity to be aware of material science in construction. This makes visits even more informative. The confrontation of vision and sustainability becomes an additional topic also for the theory of architecture.

Le Corbusier Villa Zürich CH


Le Corbusier (1887-1965) chose his artist’s name instead of his lengthy original name of Charles-Édouard Jeanneret at the age of 33 (in 1920) after having moved from Switzerland to Paris in 1917. He established a theory of modern architecture often summarised in his 5 major principles of modern architecture: 1. Pilotis as grid of pillars, 2. freeing ground floor design, 3. more open facades, 4. windows stretch horizontally, 5. garden, terrace on the roof. All these principles allow a more healthy living environment due to more light, less humidity in buildings and ease of circulation. The house Le Corbusier designed features surprising effects of light and lightness of living. “Les maisons La Roche et Jeanneret” date from 1923 and was completed in 1925. These purists Villas breathe thanks to the impression of abundant empty spaces despite relatively small surfaces. One Villa is designed for a small family, the second for a single person (Raoul La Roche) with a collection of paintings to be exposed in a small gallery. The focus on essentials of living, health, light, water, air and art combine to a relaxing and inspiring atmosphere.  Despite many of his convictions to build affordable housing for many people, which received mixed success, his “maisons bourgeoises” in Paris and elsewhere remain masterpieces beyond the 1920s and the 20th century. Le Corbusier was concerned about tuberculosis. Today the corona-crisis has reached comparable health concerns. Architecture might react to the latter crisis in re-considering the lessons from the former. Relaxing in a Le Corbusier Chaise longue and meditating in front of a Picasso, Braque or Léger painting is indeed more than a little bit elitist. But copies of such images or your very own slide show or museum VR-clip in this surrounding make this experience more affordable and compatible with living arrangements for millions of people of the middle class as well.