… de couleur“ – the ‘colour keyboards’ are a key element of the life’s work of the renowned French-Swiss architect
The first collection of 43 shades of colour was conceived by the grand seigneur of modern architecture in 1931.
In 1959, a second, supplementary array of 20 solid colours adapted to the changing conceptions of the time were added to the first ‘keyboard’.
On the basis of his experience as architect and painter, Le Corbusier arranged the shades of colour shown on individual cards in such a manner as to permit three to five colours respectively to be isolated or combined with one another with the aid of a sliding template. Each card presents a unique colour mood intended to create a specific atmosphere in a room.
With this, Le Corbusier created not only a useful tool but a new canon for puristic colour theory.
The impact of this doctrine upon the history of architecture is seminal and profound.
Up to the present day, the fundamental precepts for the treatment of colour and effect, Corbusier’s “Polychromie Architecturale” are accorded legendary status by contemporary architects, designers and artists. The enduring currency and validity of the “Polychromie Architecturale” to all possible matters of style and taste has proven itself throughout the decades.
Reference and suggested reading:
Le Corbusier “Polychromie Architecturale”,
Arthur Rüegg (Ed.), copyright 2006 Birkhäuser Verlag, Basel