Le Corbusier



'Objet Mathématique' 1958

Location: Lawn in front of Auditorium

Brussels, 1958.  People in their thousands leave the Philips Pavilion at the World Fair in awe and wonder.  Designers of the Pavilion are architects Le Corbusier (1887 - 1965) and Yannis Xenakis (1922 - 2000).  A small additional construction, 'Objet Mathématique', marks the entrance to the Pavilion.

On display inside the Pavilion is a futuristic multi-media show about the development of mankind.  Slides are projected on the walls depicting scenes of nature, masks from ancient cultures, weaponry, children, adults, elderly people, cities, birth, life and death.  All elements together, the Pavilion (according to the architect it has 'no outside') combined with the images and the musical composition, form a single work of art titled 'Le Poème Électronique'

The musical score that accompanies the show is composed by Edgar Varèse (1883 - 1965).  This piece is still considered modern today.  Varèse has incorporated all kinds of sounds into his composition, including the tolling of bells, sounds of transformers and tension meters, crying babies and much more.  What makes the work revolutionary is that the sounds that support the images reach the viewers/audience from various angles.

In Brussels, Philips wants to show off its newest developments in a specially designed building.  The design by Le Corbusier makes a lasting impression.  The basic idea is that of a stomach: you enter on one side, after the show you exit on the other.

Le Corbusier still sees a problem just before the new Pavilion is to be inaugurated.  He finds the difference between entrance and exit too unclear.  The solution he comes up with is the 'Objet Mathématique'.  This object, designed within a short time by either him or by Xenakis, is placed at the entrance.  The Philips Pavilion is demolished after the World Fair.  The 'Objet Mathématique', the only part that remains, is kept in storage with Philips Lighting at Eindhoven for many years.  In 1998 'Centrum Kunstlicht in de Kunst' (Center for Artificial Light in Art) loans the object to TU/e, and in 2011 it is finally donated to the university.


The abstract figure on the lithograph is Le Corbusier's -abstract- version of Da Vinci's Universal Man.  He was inspired to it after studying the Golden Ratio.  It indicated how relations within architectural designs should be: how high a ceiling should be, how windows should be placed, the hight of chairs, how large hallways should be etc. 

The 'Modulor' thus became the basis for the Swiss architect's designs.  It was a mathematical model to adjust buildings to human dimensions.  The height of a man with raised arm can be divided into sections at points that determine his position in a space: his feet, his navel, his head, his fingertips.  These three intervals result in a sequence from the Golden Ratio.

Le Corbusier believed that these dimensions, related directly to the human body, would help architects to adjust buildings to the needs of man.  Designs would become practical, efficient and harmonious.

The work is part of the Art Lending Library.


Links Le Corbusier:  


For further information about this sculpture go to:

To listen to the music by Varèse go to:


To see photographs go to: