Pavillon Le CorbusierA Modernist Gesamtkunstwerk
Pavillon Le Corbusier, formerly the Heidi Weber Museum, is the final building the Swiss-born architect designed before his death in 1965, two years before its completion. Gallerist and designer Heidi Weber commissioned Le Corbusier to create a new art destination in the leafy Seefeld neighbourhood on the shores of Lake Zurich, a place where the full sweep of his creativity could be exhibited, from his sculptures and paintings to his collaborations with Charlotte Perriand and Pierre Jeanneret, as well as objects from his private collection.
The pavilion consists of two structures. A freestanding roof, formed from two sheets of steel — one concave, one convex — soars above the main gallery structure, supported by a series of steel columns. The gallery itself sits below, a steel frame fitted with prefabricated panels of metal, clad with brightly coloured enamel for the facade and wood veneer for the interior, held together by 20,000 steel bolts. The building adheres to Le Corbusier’s modular system of anthropometric proportions, each panel precisely measured to offer the ideal volumes for a human to inhabit. The metal structure is an unusual departure from the raw concrete that characterises much of Le Corbusier’s later career, although his signature béton brut does appear in the ramp leading from the ground floor to the roof terrace, as well as the sculptural staircase zigzagging through the centre of the building, connecting all four floors of the pavilion.
The building is a true Gesamtkunstwerk. Each detail was overseen by the architect, from the large rotating doors to the recessed handles made from hourglass-shaped pieces of brass, to the curved metal benches and railings lining the terrace like the deck of a ship. Having been fully restored in 2019 by architects Silvio Schmed and Arthur Rüegg, Le Corbusier’s final design offers a poignant reminder of the architect’s contribution to the history of modernism.
- words: Ollie Horne
- photos: Nicolas Blandin