A Day in the Life of Le Corbusier

7 March 2009
Art Gallery

Free to same day ticket holders
Time: Sat 7 Mar 11am - Sun 8 Mar 2am

Le Corbusier invented his alias character in 1920. For the next 45 years, ‘the crow-like one’ became an artist, urbanist, poet, publisher, prophet and the first globally branded guru-architect.

To celebrate his multi-faceted legacy, the Barbican invites you to join a host of special guests – architects, artists, critics, designers and devotees – to explore their take on A Day in the Life of Le Corbusier.

Tickets are limited and all activities are on a first come first served basis unless otherwise stated

11am–12pm, Art Gallery Entrance
The Man : Morning Exercise with Caroline Jupp
Le Corbusier started his day with a forty-five minute exercise session. The idealised, perfect body was a central concern for Modernists across Europe – students at the Bauhaus began lessons with exercises in order to prepare body and mind, while school children performed mass gymnastics in their thousands as part of the Czecholovak Sokol movement.

Get out in the fresh air and partake in a communal exercise and stretching session in amongst the Barbican's striking architecture. You will be left energised and inspired by Le Corbusier's quest for health and fitness.

12–1pm, Garden Room
The Modulor : An Architectural Breakfast with Alexandre Bettler
At around 8am Le Corbusier enjoyed breakfast with his wife Yvonne at the apartment he designed on the rue Nungesser-et Colli. Comprising a living area, a studio and a roof terrace it was the perfect place for him to spend the morning painting, writing and sketching his architectural ideas.

Le Corbusier based his Modulor system on the proportions of the human figure and through it sought to create buildings which were designed to meet the needs of their inhabitants. Human scale was to dictate every aspect of architecture from the width of city streets to the height of a kitchen surface. Join designer Alexandre Bettler for breakfast to experiment with the Modulor and human.

1–2pm, Art Gallery Resource Room
The Artist : Drawing and Painting workshop for families with Michael Donlevy
Le Corbusier repeatedly asserted that his innovations as an architect depended upon his passion for the fine arts and that his practice as a painter, sculptor and designer.

Everyone is invited to join this painting and drawing session, taking natural forms and found objects as the point of inspiration for building design.

2–3pm, Garden Room
The Mentor : Working alongside Le Corbuiser with Paffard Keatinge-Clay
After lunch Le Corbusier made his way across Paris to his architectural studio on the rue de Sèvre. Tension heightened in advance of his arrival 2pm as invariably Le Corbusier came charged with new ideas and improvements. Almost immediately his team were making alterations to what they had worked on in the morning.

Join architect Paffard Keatinge-Clay as he recalls the time he spent in Paris working in Le Corbusier’s studio in the late 1940s.


4–5pm, Art Gallery Entrance
The Guru : Establishing the Rules with Eva Branscome
In 1927 Le Corbusier published and promoted his innovative architectural ideas as the ‘five points of a new architecture’.
1. the use of piloti (supports lifting a building off the ground)
2. the roof terrace
3. the free plan
4. horizontal ribbon windows
5. the free (non-structural) facade

Join architectural historian Eva Branscome in searching out how Chamberlin, Powell & Bon, architects of the Barbican, applied Le Corbusier’s ‘five points’ to their ambitiously utopian housing development in the heart of London.

5–6pm, Art Gallery Resource Room
The Director : ‘Exquisite Corpse’
Le Corbusier relied on staff and students to help translate his ideas and sketches into workable architectural designs. In his studio they worked collectively to decipher, clarify and present Le Corbusier’s new material in graphic or three-dimensional form.

You are invited to contribute to a Corbusian ‘exquisite corpse’ – picture consequences on an architectural theme. Will you and others be inspired by the great architect, like those working in his studio, to create modernist masterpieces? Or will your collective imaginations run amok?

6–7pm, Garden Room
The Urban Planner: Designing the City with Lisa Cholmondeley
Le Corbusier often spent his evenings reflecting upon his urban visions, many of which sought to raise existing cityscapes in order to reconfigure them as new, clear monocultures of work, rest and play. Le Corbusier’s visions became the dream and then the nightmare of urbanisation in the 20th century.

Create your own ‘city in a box’ with architect Lisa Cholmondeley. Using the Barbican and its surrounding neighbourhood as urban material, decide where and what to clear and what to keep for your ‘city in a box’.

7–8pm, Art Gallery Resource Room
The Media Mogul : Writing and Working with the Media presented by a.b.a.k.e.
Le Corbusier was one of the first architects to understand how to fully utilise the media as a means of communication and promotion. From the very outset of his career he avidly published and promoted his ideas in print and in person.

a.b.a.k.e. invite you to learn about Le Corbusier’s activities as a magazine and book publisher, typographer, and manifesto-maker. How does the very distinctive graphic language he developed compare to those of his contemporaries and architects today?


9–10pm, Art Gallery Resource Room
The Furniture Designer : Designing for the Interior with Shin Azumi
Radical new housing required radical new furniture. Le Corbusier, his cousin Pierre Jeanneret and Charlotte Perriand designed some of the most recognisable pieces of 20th century furniture specifically for his ‘machines for living’ in the late 1920s.

Despite the machine-made aesthetic of early examples of this tubular steel furniture were painstakingly made by hand. Join Japanese designer Shin Azumi to experience how this might have felt. Create your own mini-size furniture in paper form and learn the basic processes of furniture design.

10–11pm, Garden Room
The Prophet : Making Manifestos with Tomas Klassnik
Le Corbusier was remarkable for his ability to push his ideas and arguments beyond the realm of architectural discourse, striking juxtapositions, graphic design innovation and an innate sensitivity for his readership.

Architect Tomas Klassnik invites you to create your own unconventional associations, slogans and more – a personal manifesto for the 21st century.

11pm–12am, Art Gallery Resource Room
The Global Brand : Becoming Le Corbusier with Cutler & Gross
Architectural innovation aside, what is it that makes Le Corbusier, the person so recognisable? His penchant for a tailored black suit – the ideal standardised clothing item? The bow tie and dress shoe? Or the dark-rimed rounded spectacles? Ever conscious of the image he was portraying, Le Corbusier made himself the first global architectural brand.

Come and try out Le Corbusier’s look with Cutler & Gross in the gallery – have your picture taken with Le Corbusier’s bow tie and glasses.

12–2am, Art Gallery
The Midnight Hour : UPIC Diffusion Session #20 with Russell Haswell and Florian Hecker
Haswell and Hecker, multimedia artists and electronic musicians, employ composer Iannis Xenakis’ UPIC ‘graphic input’ computer music composing system in a multi-channel electro acoustic diffusion concert and use surround sound and laser lighting to create an immersive multi-sensory environment.

This event is part of:
Do Something Different Weekend 10 - Sun
Do Something Different 10 - Sat
Le Corbusier: Schools and Families
Le Corbusier: The Art of Architecture
Do Something Different 2009

Barbican Art Gallery would like to thank the Fondation Le Corbuiser for their very generous support of A Day in the Life of Le Corbusier.

Concept: Shumon Basar

Programme development: Corinna Gardner, Assistant Curator, Barbican Art Gallery

Design OKRM
All images © Fondation Le Corbusier

Image credit: Portrait of Le Corbusier, 1960-65 ©FLC, Paris and DACS, London 2009


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