A theory of colours

There are a lot of famous modernist architects. One of them is truly outstanding. He was a pioneer in modernism, although he was never trained as an architect or engineer in university. The speech is of Le Crobusier, a French architect, who developed five principles of modernist architecture which were followed by a lot of other modernist architects.

One of his master pieces is the Le Crobusier house in the Weissenhof Estate in Stuttgart, Germany, which belongs to 17 of Le Crobusier’s houses that are UNESCO world heritage. The Weissenhof estate was a project of a German modernist movement, the Deutscher Werkbund, in the 1920s. It was an exhibition of showcase houses to promote modernism in Germany. More than 500.000 people visited the exhibition in 1927. After the exhibition, the houses were rented out.

Two houses of the exhibition has been designed and build by Le Crobusier and his cousin Pierre Jeannerette. The more famous and more spectacular one of them is now a museum and can be visited. Although it is a master piece of modernism, well thought through and has stunning views over Stuttgart, it always struggled to attract tenants and was therefore converted to a museum.

The Le Crobusier House follows the five principles if modernism in the same way as the later and even more famous villa savoy: 1) The main floors are lifted up by pillars to fight humidity from the ground. 2) The facade was not wearing any weight and could be design without any restrictions. Both created a very light look of the building.

Le Corbusier house
Le Corbusier house in the Weissenhof Estate, Stuttgart, German


Principle 3) was an open plan floor. He use the latter to feature the variability of the rooms by employing sliding walls similar to Goldfinger house. There was one big living room during the day, which was separated into several bedrooms during the night with the beds being hidden in the wardrobes during the day. Principle 4) was the use of long strips of ribbon windows to leave natural light in. And principle 5 was the use of roof gardens. The roof garden was very amazing. He supported the view from the roof terrace by installing a horizontal beam over the edge of the terrace, which makes the impression of a frame.

Roof Garden of Le Corbusier house
View over Stuttgart, Germany from Le Corbusier house roof garden

Another typical characteristic of Le Corbusier’s architecture is the use of colours to emphasise the function of a space. Red was the colour for communication. Therefore, all doors where painted in red as well as the outdoor walls in the reception area. Grey represented work and was use for example for the kitchen. Green painting is applied to the walls in the backyard and the roof top indicating areas of well-being. I didn’t quite get what blue was standing for. It had something to do with the sky.

The use of colours in the Le Corbusier house

Le Corbusier had some really good ideas. I am not quite sure whether his theory of colours was one of them. But never mind. The building was great and the estate presented a vast variety of modernist buildings, which I really enjoyed. If you’re once in Stuttgart, that is definitely worth a trip.

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