Colour and Le Corbusier

Architecture is light and light is colour says Le Corbusier in Colin Bisset’s fascinating novel, ‘Loving Le Corbusier’.

My previous post was inspired by this insightful and thought-provoking novel and I wanted to post a little more about the revolutionary 20th Century architect that was Le Corbusier.

And of course that had to be about COLOUR!

The Secretariat, Chandigarh, Punjab, Le Corbusier, 1950s, via Wikicommons via

As with all his artistic endeavours, Le Corbusier was highly detailed – to the extent that he created his own paints.  He produced 2 colour palettes:  KT 32 in the 1930s and KT 43 in the 1950s.

The 1930s colours are 43 shades taken from nature and in general have a reserved feel to them.  They do not shout.

4e1e183e397a78d4daa0ee7a89bcc316 - Copy

Le Corbusier used these colours sparingly, his architecture of the time being primarily white as seen in the Villa Savoye of 1928-31.


However, the later 1950s palette comprises 20 much stronger, more primary, less earthy colours.  All artists evolve and it seems that Le Corbusier felt that his later, larger buildings needed stronger colours, ‘By the arrangement of colour and the use of the trowel the contrasts were created and the splendour of boire concrete realised!’ (Le Corbusier 1945, Fondation Le Corbusier)


This later colour series was used to great effect in Le Corbusier’s Unité d’habitation, Marseille 1952.


EPSON DSC picture

Look at that rainbow ceiling!

The home should be the treasure chest of living.’ Le Corbusier

To find out more about ‘Loving Le Corbusier’ by Colin Bisset click here.

To find out more about Le Corbusier click here


  1. Thank you for such a generous post. That’s very interesting about the stronger colours coming in later. The corridors of the Unite d’habitation buildings in Marseille and Nantes-Reze (and doubtless Berlin & Firminy) feel extraordinary because of that use of colour. And then the stained glass colours and enamelled door at Ronchamp are just incredible, and incredibly emotional because of the colour. It would be interesting to survey the architects who also painted and therefore understood the power of colour.


  2. My pleasure!
    Yes, a survey on architects and colour and whether they were painters too would be fascinating. Understanding colour is quite complicated because we are all emotional about colour – we have colours we love/hate/always wear/would never be seen dead in/would only drive a red car/would never drive a red car etc. I do love the look of his stained glass … must look into that.


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