Le Corbusier - the architect of concrete and radiant urban planner

Architect, theorist, urban planner, painter, designer, sculptor. Le Corbusier is an artist, a figure of modernity who made his mark on the 20th century. He made concrete an ally in creating his architectural and urban planning concepts. Lafarge, as the sole partner of the "Le Corbusier, mesures de l’homme" exhibition at the Pompidou Centre in Paris, is paying tribute to the architect whose avant-garde work established concrete as a noble material.


Le Corbusier - a passion for concrete

Le Corbusier marks a turning point in the history of architecture. During the first half of the 20th century, concrete suffered from an unfavorable image as a utilitarian and not very attractive material. As a fan of concrete since the start of his career, Le Corbusier revolutionized its use to make it a high-quality material and the keystone of his ideas.

Le Corbusier developed a refined and functional style with concrete taking center stage.  He particularly liked its raw state whose natural appearance and simplicity corresponded to the "purist" principles of the artistic movement he pioneered.

St Peter's Church in Firminy, France, inside wall

May our crude concretes reveal that beneath them our sensibilities are refined.

Le Corbusier

Concrete and its progress over the course of the 20th century allowed him to put his revolutionary ideas into practice. He developed the theoretical "free plan" principle in order to liberate space by removing load-bearing walls in favor of reinforced concrete pillars. These avant-garde approaches were at odds with his time, embroiling Le Corbusier in controversy, but now make him a source of inspiration!


Building a modern city on a human scale

As well as an architect, Le Corbusier was also a brilliant urban planner. He imagined a radiant city, "made for people, made on a human scale, using the robustness of modern techniques, demonstrating the splendor of raw concrete."*

The architect overturned urban planning principles to design the city on a human scale. To do this he created the "Modulor", a standardized human silhouette which determines a golden number used to design the structure and size of housing units. The Cité Radieuse (Radiant City) in Marseille (France) is the first housing unit he constructed using this principle. He designed concrete buildings on stilts to liberate the whole space from the ground, in favor of pedestrians, and mixed housing with services (schools, medical services, grocery stores, etc.).

Le Corbusier went on to apply his urban and architectural principles to an entire city. This created the new city of Chandigarh in India, whose urban planning became a well-known model around the world. Le Corbusier designed its plans and traffic system, ensuring it has the least congestion in the country even today. The architect also made good use of concrete in the construction of administrative buildings and insisted on the material as vital in the construction of cities.


* La Ville Radieuse, 1935, Editions de l'Architecture d'Aujourd'hui.


Concrete and better cities - a vision shared by Lafarge

Private villa in France made with Ductal® (© Lafarge Medialibrary - Thomas Deron - Architectes Rocheteau - Saillard)

The fact that concrete is now an inspiration to the greatest architects is undoubtedly due to Le Corbusier's bold aim to make it the material for all possibilities.

To keep Le Corbusier's heritage alive, Lafarge is at the cutting edge of concrete innovation. At our Research Center, we are developing increasingly efficient concretes which continue to serve architects' imagination by offering them greater freedom: unusual shapes, slender structures, a variety of textures, wide range of colors, etc.

Beyond architectural gestures, our innovative solutions, using cement, concrete and aggregates, support urban transformation by contributing to building better cities.


Lafarge, partner of the "Le Corbusier, mesures de l’homme" exhibition at the Pompidou Centre in Paris, from April 29th to August 3rd 2015

Centre Pompidou, Paris, France

Through some three hundred works, the Pompidou Centre is devoting a brand-new retrospective to Le Corbusier's work. A visionary architect and urban planner, theorist of modernity, as well as a painter and sculptor, he made a profound impression on the 20th century by revolutionizing architectural creation and how we "inhabit" spaces. Le Corbusier, the great architect of concrete, continues to inspire contemporary architects.

Lafarge is supporting this major exhibition, which reflects its core business and its ambition to build better cities.


Concrete seals the history between Lafarge and Le Corbusier in Firminy

St Perter's Chruch in Firminy by Le Corbusier, France
St Peter Church in Firminy, France, by Le Corbusier

Since being designed by Le Corbusier in 1962, St Peter’s church in Firminy remained unbuilt due to a lack of suitable materials able to faithfully reproduce the oblique lines imagined by the architect. In 2006, the job was finally completed! Lafarge enabled the posthumous completion of his construction using Agilia®, our self-placing and self-leveling concrete. 


Concrete in all its forms: a selection of key achievements

  • 1931: La Villa Savoye in Poissy (France) marks a turning point in the history of architecture. It is the archetype of free plan, applying the five points of "modern architecture" defined by Le Corbusier.
  • 1952: The Cité Radieuse (Radiant City) in Marseille (France), his first housing unit.
  • 1952-1959: Chandigarh administrative complex (India) comprising the High Court, Secretariat and Assembly buildings of this new city, whose entire urban planning he was responsible for.
  • 1955: Notre Dame du Haut Chappell in Ronchamp (France), his first religious building, listed as an historic monument.

Lafarge's innovative concretes serving architecture