Le Corbusier (1887-1965)
The Pavilion Le Corbusier in Zurich reopened in 2019 after architects Silvio Schmed and Arthur Rüegg restored the art museum to its original state.
The building was the final project built by the pioneer of modernist architecture, and its glass and steel structure was an unusual departure from Le Corbusier's predilection for concrete. Built between 1964-1967, two years after the Swiss architect's death, the four-storey glass and steel structure was designed for Swiss gallery owner and interior designer Heidi Weber. Weber commissioned the building to be dedicated to the artistic works of her friend, Le Corbusier. Le Corbusier designed every detail of the pavilion down to the door handles, including a bronze recessed door handle in an hourglass shape, and cloud-shaped oak-wood handles on glass doors.
Pavilion Le Corbusier has a facade formed of large enamel panels painted in white and primary colours, and is topped by a roof terrace accessed by a concrete ramp and sheltered by a distinctive free-floating canopy. Weighing 40 tons, the roof is formed of two parts made out of welded metal sheets that were prefabricated off site then craned into place. The roof was put in first to shelter the rest of the construction process, including the pouring of the concrete base. Steel frames with a modular design were assembled underneath, then the walls, floors, windows and doors were fixed into place with 20,000 steel bolts.
The arrangement of the 1.13 metre by 2.26 metre coloured panels are arranged around the floor-to-ceiling glass windows in a pattern based on the architect's modular scale of proportions. Each panel is a metal sheet clad with an enamelled panel on the facade side and a wood veneer on the interior. A chrome cockpit-style micro kitchen occupies a 2.26-metre-long corner of the pavilion, with built-in shelves for glasses hidden in the bright red cooker hood.
Apart from the base and ramp, a singular use of concrete comes in the form of a sculptural free-standing staircase that zigzags through the centre of the building. Up on the flat roof, curving metal benches line the edge of the terrace, with its mid-century nautical-style guardrails.
© Alan John Ainsworth Photography