August 27: RIP LeC
2012/08/27 § Leave a comment
On this day in 1965 Le Corbusier died.
Although understanding that people matter is the most important thing an architect should learn, the fact that nature always wins is the most fundamental lesson he or she must absorb. Just as it has torn at and scrubbed against his buildings for, in some cases, a whole century (check out this project from 1912), nature had the final say on Corbusier on a late August morning when the seventy-eight year-old man was pulled under the waters off the coast of Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France. It was where Le Corbusier had constructed a summer home on the Mediterranean, not far from the cemetery where he had buried his wife in 1957 and where he would also be interred.
It was also immediately below the house called E-1027 (a curious code referring to its original occupants) designed by Modernist furniture designer and architect Eileen Gray–oftentimes the unfortunate female token in histories of the mods, whose alleged revolutionary qualities did not necessarily extend to equal employment opportunities for women in their profession. Gray had built her house long before Corb took a liking to the seaside location for his own dwelling. Although their relationship was murky, it’s suggested that Corb was rather smitten with at least the house, and that Gray was not at all amused by the murals he contributed to it without her approval (she used the word “vandalism”). After they were complete, Gray abandoned the house but Corb stayed in the neighborhood, right up to the day of his fateful swim. He is buried in the Cimetière de Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, but a few miles from the site where he died; the nearest architectural monument, and the last building he probably ever saw, is E-1027. Perhaps it is not only nature, in this case, that dealt the final blow.
Image: Eileen Gray’s house, E-1027, overlooking the waters where Le Corbusier drowned (from this source)