It is called “Voyager Le Corbusier” and it is the book handled by the architect Jacob Brillhart, who gathered drawings and watercolours from the collection of the young Charles-Edouard Jeanneret, later become one of the most famous architects in the world, Le Corbusier. Between 1907 and 1911, still as a student, Jeanneret travelled across Europe and Asia, while documenting with his drawings all he was observing: from the archaeological ruins to the landscaped, details of interiors and people.
Le Corbusier was a drastically innovative architect, a futurist who however has extremely embedded roots in history of tradition. His inbred curiosity allowed him to undertake many trips, during which he was drawing, painting and writing, with the intent of improving his skills as a designer.
He learnt to draw by copying the Italian paintings from 1300, all the way to become promoter of the Purism movement that had so much affected the French architecture from the 20’s of the last century.
The study of the connections between nature, art, culture and architecture threw the base for that which would have become his future activity, designing.
To understand the creative research of Le Corbusier as well as his evolution as an architect, it is important to look at his start: he did not attend university or formally applied for an architectural school. The training of the young Jeanneret was highly affected by Charles L’Eplattenier, his mentor at the Ecole d’Art in the hometown of the architecht, Chaux de-Fonds, in Switzerland. After the graduation, the teacher pushed his student to expand his view of the world, to visit the North of Italy with the formal goal of drawing.
The learning through direct experience was a common tradition amongst young people from the European aristocracy in the 19th century, which through the Grand Tour were completing their rite of passage: the trip was considered as necessary to enlarge the views and understand the world. Architects, painters and writers adopted this idea, by following a standard itinerary that would lead them to visit monuments, antiqueness, paintings, evoking landscapes and art cities.
After the first, many were the trips carried out by Jeanneret; Paris, Vienna, Germany, where the artistical block was essential for his formation: understanding other places and cultures through their architectures and urban spaces. Giuliano Gresleri, architecture historian wrote this about Le Corbusier:
“The notes, the sketches, the measurements are never an end to themselves, nor were part of the travelling culture. They ceased to be a diary and became design”.
During his trip heading to Asia in 1911, the evolution of Le Corbusier led him to be willing to understand the architecture and culture of everyday life. Once in Greece, halfway through his trip, Jeanneret stated his desire to be wanting to become an architect: in the end, the trips made as a student were an actual rite of passage for Le Corbusier.
Even if without a forma education in architecture, the massive curiosity to understand the world through the drawing, painting and writing, made Le Corbusier the dynamic designer from whom it’s still possible to learn, nowadays.
Below: reptiles similar to lizards
Below: a sketch about the fountain located in Piazza Navona in Rome