In a meeting of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee on Sunday 17 July in Istanbul, 17 Le Corbusier-designed projects in seven countries were inscribed onto the list of World Heritage Sites.
The committee considered 27 nominations this year. The Oscar Niemeyer-designed Pampulha Modern Ensemble was among three other sites that were also inscribed. Among the sites that didn’t make the grade were Key Works of Modern Architecture by Frank Lloyd Wright, a collection of 10 buildings, nominated by the US government.
The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier, an Outstanding Contribution to the Modern Movement, was nominated by the French government with the support of Germany, Argentina, Belgium, India, Japan and Switzerland.
Le Corbusier was born Charles-Edouard Jeanneret in Switzerland in 1887 and became a French citizen in 1930.
Audrey Azoulay, the French Minister of Culture and Communication, celebrated the addition of Le Corbusier’s work to the list and said, “These monuments have retained their functionality and continue to be inhabited, used and visited today.”
The World Heritage inscription states the 17 buildings are “a testimonial to the invention of a new architectural language that made a break with the past.”
Le Corbusier’s public and civic projects, including the Complexe du Capitole in Chandigarh (India), the National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo (Japan), the House of Dr Curutchet in La Plata (Argentina) and the Unité d’habitation in Marseille (France), “reflect the solutions that the Modern Movement sought to apply during the twentieth century to the challenges of inventing new architectural techniques to respond to the needs of society,” the inscription continues. “These masterpieces of creative genius also attest to the internationalization of architectural practice across the planet.”
The Swiss government also released a statement saying Le Corbusier’s works “embody the exceptional architectural and constructive responses to the social challenges of the twentieth century.” The World Heritage listing will enable more funding for the conservation of the sites, Reuters reported.
The Pampulha Modern Ensemble was also inscribed as a World Heritage site, labelled as “a visionary garden city project.” The ensemble is an urban project comprising a cultural and leisure centre designed around an artificial lake with buildings by Oscar Niemeyer, in collaboration with landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx.
“The Ensemble comprises bold forms that exploit the plastic potential of concrete, while fusing architecture, landscape design, sculpture and painting into a harmonious whole,” the inscription continued. “It reflects the influence of local traditions, the Brazilian climate and natural surroundings on the principles of modern architecture.”
The US government nominated 10 key Frank Lloyd Wright-designed buildings in January 2015, including Fallingwater (Pennsylvania), Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York), Taliesin (Wisconsin) and Frederick C. Robie House (Illinois).
The Chicago Tribune reports the committee’s debate on the Frank Lloyd Wright nomination was disrupted by the failed coup in Turkey, but ultimately, it found the sites did not meet the World Heritage listing’s standard of “outstanding universal value.”
Janet Halstead, executive director of the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy, told the Chicago Tribune the committee found “it was very important to recognize Frank Lloyd Wright, but they felt there needed to be some further work on the nomination.”
The World Heritage list was established in 1978 and now recognize 1,052 properties in more than 160 countries around the world. Other World Heritage listed sites include Australia’s Sydney Opera House, the Taj Mahal in India and the Statue of Liberty in the USA.
Le Corbusier buildings added to the World Heritage List
- Notre-Dame du Haut, Ronchamp, France
- Villa Savoye near Paris, France
- Unité d’habitation, Marseille, France
- Maison La Roche, Paris, France
- Dominican Monastery of La Tourette near Lyon, France
- Capitol Complex, Chandigarh, India
- The National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, Japan
- Maison Curutchet, La Plata, Argentina
- Villa Le Lac, Corseaux, Switzerland
- Cabanon de Le Corbusier, Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France
- Usine Claude et Duval Factory, Saint-Dié, France
- Weissenhof-Siedlung Estate, Stuttgart, Germany
- Cité Frugès, Pessac, France
- Maison Guiette, Antwerp, Belgium
- Immeuble Clarté, Geneva, Switzerland
- Maison de la Culture, Firminy, France
- Immeuble Molitor, Paris, France