Fondation Suisse


A masterpiece by LE CORBUSIER

The Switzerland Foundation, one of the most striking constructions in the Cité universitaire, was built after the First World War. Mathematician Rudolf FUETER, who served as Chancellor of the University of Zurich, created a consortium to represent the Swiss university through a residential hall in the Cité internationale, and thus the Switzerland Foundation was born. It was intended to house 45 deserving Swiss students and was financed by both private and public funds. Rudolf FUETER called upon the visionary architect Charles-Edouard JEANNERET, more commonly known as LE CORBUSIER to create the building. LE CORBUSIER hesitated before eventually accepting the proposal; he designed the edifice with his cousin Pierre JEANNERET.

Did you know?
LE CORBUSIER was one of the founders of the modern architectural style. In the 1930s, he was able to experiment with architectural and urban design concepts in the buildings he designed; the Switzerland Foundation provided him with a structure in which he could implement his theories of collective housing.

An avant-garde “liveable machine”

After two years of construction, the Switzerland Foundation opened its doors on 7 July 1933. It is the perfect illustration of LE CORBUSIER’s “five points of architecture”: a double row of stilts lifts the structure off the ground, the reception area has an open floor plan, the façade is simple with flat walls, windows stretch across the building and there is a rooftop garden. This is the first modern building in the Cité universitaire, made to serve as a “liveable machine”, to use LE CORBUSIER’s words. The finishing touch to the building is provided by the furniture designed by Charlotte PERRIAND. The building experienced damage from sunlight and was partially renovated by the architect MOREILLON in 1957-1958, under LE CORBUSIER’s supervision.

Did you know?
The Switzerland Foundation is considered a masterpiece of modern architecture and was listed as a historic monument in December 1986. One room, whose original features have been conserved, is open to the public to show the private side of Le Corbusier’s design and display Charlotte Perriand’s furniture. The central room in the Swiss building includes a fresco painted by Le Corbusier himself in 1948 to replace a photo mural from 1933.