Jeanneret at La Chaux-de-Fonds

The Formative Years

H. Allen Brooks 

Young Jeanneret’s apprenticeship was so hazardous and so lacking in a systematic program that it appeared more fitting for a curious young man of the 19th century than for a modem architect. He began studying technical problems very late and even so, he made this period of learning last as long as he could by travelling and being permanently fascinated by culture. Allen Brooks writes about this little-known period which would have a decisive impact on what was to come for a man who began his public life by changing his name and trying to practice tabula rasa.

Those who read Le Corbusier’s Oeuvre complete are often unaware that the first sixteen years of executed work are excluded from the text. Only an impression remains —of a young designer who needed no lengthy training in his youth. We sense that, fresh from art school and continental travels, he arrived in Paris, where, after participating in the Salon d’automne of 1922, he obtained his first commissions— the Ozenfant studio and villa at Vaucresson. Yet, in truth, he had already practiced architecture for many years and was anything but a budding youth; at thirty-five he was more nearly approaching middle age...[+]

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