Design Icon: 10 Influential Works by Le Corbusier

The Swiss-French architect pushed the boundaries of 20th-century design with innovative forms, materials, and new theories to define modern architecture.

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In 1923 when Le Corbusier published his tome, Vers une Architecture ("Toward a New Architecture"), the Swiss-French architect, born Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris, famously declared: "A house is a machine for living in." He elaborated—that by living in efficient houses, we can be both more productive and more comfortable, stating that good engineering can achieve harmony and beauty. One look through the renowned architect and designer’s works will prove just that. Here are 10 celebrated buildings by Le Corbusier, who was a pioneer of modern architecture and a leader of the International Style. (Many of these influential works were added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2016.)

Maison La Roche-Jeanneret

Paris, France

Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret—his cousin and longtime collaborator—designed Maison La Roche for Raoul La Roche, a Swiss banker and modern art collector. The house, which includes a gallery for La Roche’s cubist art collection as well as his private apartment, sits adjacent to another structure the duo built for Jeanneret’s brother, dubbed Maison Jeanneret. Completed in 1925, Maison La Roche-Jeanneret comprises two white volumes that join to create an L-shaped plan. Today, the building operates as a museum for the Fondation Le Corbusier. 

© FLC/ADAGP, Oliver Martin-Gambier

Villa Savoye

Poissy, France

Situated in a small commune outside of Paris, Villa Savoye is one of Le Corbusier’s most recognizable achievements and is still considered one of the most significant contributions to modern architecture in the 20th century. The white villa (designed in collaboration with Pierre Jeanneret) is tailored to Le Corbusier’s Five Points of a New Architecture manifesto, with pilotis that lift the building above the ground, a flat roof that could serve as a garden and terrace, open-plan interiors, horizontal windows, and a "free" or unrestrained facade. It was completed in 1931.

© FLC/ADAGP, Oliver Martin-Gambier

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Villa Le Lac

Corseaux, Switzerland

Le Corbusier designed this waterfront home on the edge of Lake Geneva (again, in collaboration with his architect cousin) for his parents between 1923 and 1924, making Villa Le Lac one of his earliest built projects. The single-story block building has a reinforced concrete structure with a sun deck on its flat roof. The interior is fitted with movable partitions and foldout furniture, while some of the walls are colorfully painted.

Photo by Patrick Moser

Maison Guiette

Antwerp, Belgium

Maison Guiette, also known as Les Peupliers, was Le Corbusier’s first foreign commission. Belgian artist and art critic René Guiette asked the architect to design his live/work studio in Antwerp after seeing the temporary Pavilion de L'Esprit Nouveau structure installed in Paris. The building, completed in 1927, is Le Corbusier’s only remaining work in Belgium and is considered an early example of International Style architecture.

Photo courtesy of Fondation Le Corbusier

Curutchet House

La Plata, Argentina

Commissioned as an extension to the residence and clinic for Argentinean surgeon Dr. Pedro Domingo Curutchet, this four-level home is one of only a handful of projects designed by Le Corbusier in North and South America. The Swiss-French architect never visited the site; his only communication with the client was through an exchange of letters. Le Corbusier sent over a set of drawings in 1949 along with a list of recommended architects. Under the direction of Amancio Williams—one of Argentina's most prominent modern architects—it was completed in 1953. 

© FLC/ADAGP, Oliver Martin-Gambier

Maisons Jaoul

Paris, France

This pair of Le Corbusier–designed houses in the upscale Paris suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine are among the architect’s most important postwar buildings. A departure from his trademark white villas and other previous works, the homes feature béton brut (unfinished cast-concrete) and rugged brickwork (including Catalan vaults), as well as grass roofs.

Photo courtesy of Fondation Le Corbusier

Weissenhof Estate

Stuttgart, Germany

The Weissenhof Estate is an experimental housing development on the outskirts of Stuttgart, Germany, comprised of two-family structures, Houses 14 and 15. It was designed by Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret in 1927 as part of a German Werkbund exhibition carried out under the direction of Mies van der Rohe. Both buildings embody Le Corbusier’s Five Points of Architecture, with their flat roof terraces, steel pilotis, and horizontal windows. 

Photo byHassan Bagheri

Notre-Dame du Haut

Ronchamp, France

Le Corbusier’s Notre-Dame du Haut represents a key shift away from the sparse, functionalist form of modernism the architect displayed in his earlier projects. The sculptural chapel was completed in 1954 to replace a church after World War II. It was designed to be a somber space that relies on the expressive form of the structure and use of natural light.    

©FLC/ADAGP, Paul Koslowsky


Paris, France

Located on the top two floors of the Molitor building in Paris, this compact apartment—designed and built in the early 1930s by Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret—served as the Swiss-French architect’s home and painting studio until he passed away in 1965. 

© FLC/ADAGP, Oliver Martin-Gambier

Unité d’Habitation

Marseille, France

Le Corbusier was commissioned to design this multifamily residential housing project in Marseille as part of a rebuilding effort after World War II. The brutalist housing complex, called La Cité Radieuse (or "The Radiant City") includes 337 units of 23 different types, as well as two shopping streets, a hotel, and a rooftop terrace. By setting the windows in a recessed grid, the concrete building reduces heat gain. The colors indicate different apartment units.    

© FLC/ADAGP, Bénédicte Gandini

Related Reading:

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You Can Rent a Renovated Studio in Le Corbusier's Famed Cité Radieuse

Design Icons: 24 Modern Architects and Designers That Have Shaped Our World


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