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11 Le Corbusier Homes now on Unesco World Heritage List

Finally, Le Corbusier has gained the status his work deserves, with 11 of his most influential residential buildings now on Unesco’s World Heritage List, together with seven of his other works. Le Corbusier, one of the greatest architects of the 20th century, has had a huge and enduring impact on the world with his built and written oeuvre. Together, his works embody some of the most important technical and conceptual achievements of the Modern Movement in the field of architecture and urbanism.

Getting this World Heritage listing was far from straightforward, however. The nomination proposal was first submitted in 2008. It was examined during the 33rd Session of the World Heritage Committee (in Seville in 2009) and referred. It was examined again during the 35th Session (in Paris in 2011), and again referred. A revised proposal was submitted in 2015. Finally, at the 40th Session of the World Heritage Committee in Istanbul, during the failed coup of last Sunday (17th July), the nomination was successful.

It is of course curious that the two most influential Modernist houses in the world, Villa Savoye in Europe and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater in the USA (more on this later), should be missing from the Unesco list. Up until now, only six houses and residential complexes by famous 20th-century architects have featured on the Unesco World Heritage List. They are: the Rietveld-Schröder House in Utrecht; Casa-Estudio Luis Barragán in Mexico City; the Victor Horta house in Brussels; Mies van der Rohe’s Villa Tugendhat in Brno; the works of Gaudí in Barcelona; and the housing estates (Siedlungen) in Berlin. All of these are of course members of Iconic Houses.

Le Corbusier’s work reflects an ongoing search for new forms as well as constructive principles and models for living. He wanted his work to be profoundly universal, and as such included programmes for all types of people. Thanks to the international scope of his work, his achievements are found on almost every continent. The architect of many projects, Le Corbusier was also a prolific theorist and his ideas were not only transmitted through his projects and constructions, but also through his writings.

So, congratulations to the Fondation Le Corbusier and all who were involved in achieving Unesco World Heritage listing for 17 works of Le Corbusier!

  • Maisons La Roche and Jeanneret, Paris, France, 1923
  • Petite villa au bord du lac Léman, Corseaux, Switzerland, 1923
  • Cité Frugès, Pessac, France, 1924
  • Maison Guiette, Antwerp, Belgium, 1926
  • Weissenhof-Siedlung houses, Stuttgart, Germany, 1927
  • Villa Savoye and gardener’s lodge, Poissy, France, 1928
  • Villa Savoye and gardener’s lodge, Poissy, France, 1928
  • Immeuble Clarté, Genève, Switzerland, 1930
  • Immeuble Molitor, Boulogne-Billancourt, France, 1931
  • Unité d’habitation, Marseille, France, 1945
  • Casa Curutchet, La Plata/Buenos-Aires, Argentine 1949
  • Cabanon de Le Corbusier, Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France, 1951
  • Maisons La Roche and Jeanneret, Paris, France, 1923
  • Petite villa au bord du lac Léman, Corseaux, Switzerland, 1923
  • Cité Frugès, Pessac, France, 1924
  • Maison Guiette, Antwerp, Belgium, 1926
  • Weissenhof-Siedlung houses, Stuttgart, Germany, 1927
  • Villa Savoye and gardener’s lodge, Poissy, France, 1928
  • Villa Savoye and gardener’s lodge, Poissy, France, 1928
  • Immeuble Clarté, Genève, Switzerland, 1930
  • Immeuble Molitor, Boulogne-Billancourt, France, 1931
  • Unité d’habitation, Marseille, France, 1945
  • Casa Curutchet, La Plata/Buenos-Aires, Argentine 1949
  • Cabanon de Le Corbusier, Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France, 1951

The majority of these (11) are residential buildings, of which most (seven) are members of our Iconic Houses network. See our slideshow above for a full overview of these works, in chronological order:

Residential

  • The Claude & Duval factory, Saint-Dié-des Vosges, France, 1946
  • Chapelle Notre-Dame-du-Haut, Ronchamp, France, 1950
  • The Assembly, Chandigarh, India, 1952
  • The Assembly, Chandigarh, India, 1952
  • The Assembly, Chandigarh, India, 1952
  • Convent of La Tourette, Éveux, France, 1953
  • National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, Japan, 1955
  • Maison de la Culture, Firminy, France, 1955
  • The Claude & Duval factory, Saint-Dié-des Vosges, France, 1946
  • Chapelle Notre-Dame-du-Haut, Ronchamp, France, 1950
  • The Assembly, Chandigarh, India, 1952
  • The Assembly, Chandigarh, India, 1952
  • The Assembly, Chandigarh, India, 1952
  • Convent of La Tourette, Éveux, France, 1953
  • National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, Japan, 1955
  • Maison de la Culture, Firminy, France, 1955

Non-residential (see above slideshow)

  • The Claude & Duval factory, Saint-Dié-des Vosges, France, 1946
  • Chapelle Notre-Dame-du-Haut, Ronchamp, France, 1950
  • The Assembly, Chandigarh, India, 1952
  • Convent of La Tourette, Éveux, France, 1953
  • National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, Japan, 1955
  • Maison de la Culture, Firminy, France, 1955

Unesco Listing for Frank Lloyd Wright?
In Istanbul, the World Heritage Committee also completed its consideration of the USA’s nomination of Key Works of Modern Architecture by Frank Lloyd Wright to the World Heritage List. After spirited discussion, the committee decided to refer the nomination for further discussion. As we know, for Le Corbusier’s successful inscription it took repeated attempts, so Frank Lloyd Wright’s nomination will certainly be back for a rematch.

Of the referral outcome, Fallingwater’s Lynda Waggoner said: “While we would have preferred the series be inscribed at this session, we feel the decision to refer is fair. A serial nomination like ours is a very complex undertaking and it is certainly not unusual for such nominations to be reworked multiple times before inscription is achieved. We appreciate the opportunity to address the Committee’s concerns in the coming months and hope for inscription of the series in a few years.”

Having seen this outcome in Le Corbusier’s case, we hope for a good future outcome for Frank Lloyd Wright. Fallingwater and Villa Savoye are simply the iconic 20th-century houses of North America and Europe respectively.

Visit the exhibition at Maison La Roche
On display in Maison La Roche in Paris are various items from the Fondation Le Corbusier collection, including photos, drawings and models, relating to the 17 buildings and sites that Le Corbusier realised between 1923 and 1955 and that are now included on the World Heritage List. The exhibition, The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier – An Outstanding Contribution to the Modern Movement, scan be seen until 30 November.

Publication date 20 July 2016

The photos were taken in 2014 and in 2015 (with the exception of the Cabanon). The slideshows show all the buildings in chronological order.©Photos by Cemal Emden, except Olivier Martin-Gambier for the Cabanon and Casa Curutchet. ©FLC/ADAGP, 2016