Architectural Polychromy

Le Corbusier‘s Architectural Polychromy is a masterwork. It offers 63 fascinating colour shades which Le Corbusier created in two colour collections - in 1931 and 1959. All colour shades are eminently architectural, naturally harmonious and can be combined in any way. Each shade has its relevance and embodies specific spatial and human effects.

1. Colour modifies space 
2. Colour classifies objects
3. Colour acts physiologically upon us and reacts strongly upon our sensitivities

The collection of 1931

Le Corbusier takes the chance offered to him by Salubra to release his Polychromie as a wallcovering collection. The purist colour collection of 1931 comprises 43 colour shades. Le Corbusier renounces to the sampling by sample books. In order to detect own affinities and to choose individual preferences, he creates atmospheres which reflect specific actions of colours as well as fundamental manifestations of sensitivity.

“These Keyboards of Colour aim at stimulating personal selection, by placing the task of choosing on a sound systematic basis. In my opinion they offer a method of approach which is accurate and effective, one which makes it possible to plan, in the modern home, colour harmonies which are definitely architectural and yet suited to the natural taste and needs of the individual.” (Le Corbusier)

An overall of 18 brighter colours -shown as horizontal strips on the various plates- are shades of pronounced value for mural effect. Their mural significance provides the descriptive titles of the different Keyboards:

1. Space, 2. Sky, 3. Velvet I, 4. Velvet II, 5. Masonry I, 6. Masonry II, 7. Sand I, 8. Sand II, 9. Scenery.

Three of the twelve Keyboards carry the name ‘Checkered’ (10. Checkered I, 11. Checkered II, 12. Checkered III). They suggest chords which are rather haphazard.

The shades are structured in such a way, that, with the help of slide bars, a single shade or a combination of two or three shades can be detached against two background tones. The Keyboards of Colour offer many suggestions and touch each of us by such or such a harmony. 

Keyboards of Colour 1931

The collection of 1959

In 1959, Le Corbusier extends the Architechtural Polychromy by 20 stronger colours and a further impressive colour atmosphere.

The combination of colourful and achromatic shades and of different values of lightness underlines the exceptional experience of Le Corbusier in architecture and as a painter which forms the foundation of the entire Architectural Polychromy.

Keyboards of Colour 1959

„To choose, one has to feel not successively, but synchronically. To choose, one has to see what it is about and the eye has to be like an agile tool in the service of a deep instinct. One has to make the task easier, eliminate the sterile fatigues (efforts of the memory). One has to classify, to spread out a choice. The eye has to see! objectively, truly.“ (Le Corbusier)