Le Corbusier, professional name of Charles Édouard Jeanneret (1887-1965), Swiss-French architect, painter, and writer, who had a major effect on the development of modern architecture. Born on October 6, 1887, in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, he received an early art education there, then studied modern building construction under Auguste Perret in Paris. Later he spent brief periods working with the German architect Josef Hoffmann. In 1922 he went into partnership in Paris as an architect with his cousin, the engineer Pierre Jeanneret, and adopted his mother's maiden name, Le Corbusier.
While practicing as an architect, Le Corbusier was also active as a painter and writer. In his painting he was associated with Amédée Ozenfant in the school of purism, one of a number of movements that grew out of cubism. In 1920 he founded with Ozenfant the review L'Esprit Nouveau (The New Spirit), for which he wrote numerous articles to support his theories on architecture; these theories were developed from 1920 to 1925 and culminated in his concept of the ideal house as “a machine for living.” Essentially a functionalist, he broke with the forms and design of historic styles, and sought a new 20th-century style to be based on engineering achievements in bridge building and steamship construction; on modern materials such as ferroconcrete, sheet glass, and synthetics; and on contemporary needs such as town planning and housing projects. His work did much to bring about general acceptance of the now-common international style of low-lying, unadorned buildings that depend for aesthetic effect on simplicity of forms and relation to function.
His most famous buildings include a prize-winning design for the Palace of the League of Nations, Geneva (1927-1928); the Swiss Building at the Cité Universitaire, Paris (1931-1932); Unité d'Habitation (1946-1952), an apartment house in Marseille, France; Notre-Dame-du-Haut (1950-1955), a pilgrim church in Ronchamp, France; and the High Court Buildings (1952-1956) in Chandīgarh, India, part of his plan for the entire city. He was also one of the architects appointed to plan permanent buildings for the United Nations in New York City; the Secretariat, a tall, glass-sided slab, is primarily of his design. His writings include Vers une architecture (Towards a New Architecture, 1927); La maison des hommes (The Home of Man, 1942); and Quand les cathédrales étaient blanches (When the Cathedrals Were White, 1947). Le Corbusier died at Cap-Martin, France, on August 27, 1965.