Le Corbusier (1887-1965): “A house is a machine for living in”
One of the most influential architects of the Modern Movement, Le Corbusier sought simplicity and order in his designs, rejecting the concept of ‘style’. A product of his age, he believed that a house ought to be conceived, designed and produced in a rational manner, as were cars and airplanes. Traditionally designed houses seemed to frustrate the promise of the new machine age and the “good life for all” that technology could bring.
The Sun-Moon blend is Libra-Gemini – strong social energies combine with mind-power as these two air signs come together. Looking at the horoscope above, note how the Sun is electrified by Uranus, and the Moon is both empowered by Pluto and sensitized by Neptune. We immediately feel the promise of something on a monumental scale, of someone with a grand aesthetic statement to deliver to the world.
Innovator Uranus not only rules the 9th House (internationalism) and the all-important Midheaven but is oriental and tightly conjunct the Sun, ruler of both the 3rd House of communications and the 4th House of architecture. Uranus and the Sun sit in the 5th House of creativity and are disposited by Venus in detail-orientated Virgo, co-ruler of the 5th (with Mercury) and ruler of the 12th. Venus in the 4th is also peregrine (defined here as not forming any Ptolemaic aspect with any other planet*) so we know that aesthetic expression will not only be idiosyncratic but will flood the horoscope with its significance, seeking constant affirmation through creative output (5th) and collective socio-political dreams (12th). Add to this the natal Midpoints AP=Ve/Ur and Ve=Ur/MC and we feel aesthetic innovation at fever pitch.
Mars in Leo, on the cusp of the 4th House and reaching up to the Midheaven, roars out to be heard! Here we see the drive for recognition and the charismatic ego strength to be the front man for the Modern Movement. Le Corbusier strove for personal glory while simultaneously serving the social collective and becoming of indispensable social significance.
Returning to the 5th House, we find Mercury (the Ascendant ruler) and Jupiter here, both in highly-driven Scorpio. The pair is squared by Saturn, traditional ruler of the Aquarius Midheaven and astrological ruler of Ferro-concrete, Le Corbusier’s signature material. We feel the cerebral thoroughness and sense of purpose for which he became a twentieth century architectural icon. Pluto and Mercury, both contacting the Midheaven, are in mutual reception, linking the 5th and 6th Houses strongly together through rulership. Once again we feel the grand scale of Le Corbusier’s mental perspective.
The 12th House emphasis, with big brothers Neptune-Pluto flanking the Moon (and powerfully squaring the Midheaven), call down images of the large scale and governmental nature of many of Le Corbusier’s designs, such as the Swiss Students’ Hostel (1930-32), the Unité d’Habitation (1946-52) in Marseilles and his contemporary city for three million inhabitants (never built). With many of his designs there is a “pie-in-the-sky” element (Ur=Ma/Ne); for example, despite its enormous visual impact, the corridors of the Unité housing space ended up being dark and gloomy with some of the inner bedrooms cupboard-like and airless. Its impressive scale scared people and its rough, chunky, untreated concrete walls gave it the air of an ancient ruin. Needless to say, he never realized his ambition to build a series of Unités 200 meters apart in a “Radiant City”.
Interestingly, it was when he was not trying to be a social engineer that Le Corbusier built some of the most beautiful and inspiring buildings of his age. The Chapelle Notre-Dame-du-Haut de Ronchamp, also known as the Chapel at Ronchamp (1950-55) marks his distinct break with socialistic and mechanistic architecture and his embrace of more primitive and organic forms. The major part of his design work for this project was carried out during solar arc Neptune conjoining his natal Saturn and transiting Saturn conjunct his Sun. Uranus arced to his Moon by quindecile at its completion.
“In building this chapel, I wished to create a place of silence, of prayer, of peace, of spiritual joy. A sense of what was sacred inspired our efforts. Some things are sacred, others are not – whether they be outwardly religious or otherwise… it was a project difficult, meticulous, primitive made strong by the resources brought into play but sensitive and informed by all-embracing mathematics which is the creator of that space that cannot be described in words.”
À la vôtre, Le Corb!
Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris, known as Le Corbusier: born October 6, 1887 at 9pm in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland; died August 27, 1965, in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France, at age 77.
© Catherine Goshen. No part of this article may be reproduced without the author’s written permission.
Written on the Fall Equinox of September 22, 2014, with transiting Pluto stationing direct and square Le Corb’s Sun and Uranus, and transiting Jupiter conjunct his Nodal Axis, Pluto=Sun.
*Tyl, Noe,l Synthesis and Counseling in Astrology, Llewellyn Publications, United States, 2002
Cresti, Carlo, Le Corbusier, Crown Publishers Ltd., United States, 1970
Jencks, Charles, The Language of Post-Modern Architecture, Academy Editions, London, 1977
Wolfe, Tom, From Bauhaus to Our House, Jonathan Cape Ltd., London, 1985