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Preparatory assistance for the nomination of the architectural work of Le Corbusier (Argentina, Belgium, France, Germany, India, Japan, Switzerland)

© Fondation Le Corbusier

Le Corbusier is one of the greatest architects of the 20th century, and his work both built and written have had a huge impact on the world, and demonstrate major technical and conceptual changes of the Modern Movement in the field of architecture and Urbanism. His work reflects an ongoing search for new forms as well as constructive principles and models for living. Le Corbusier wanted his work to be profoundly universal, and as such included types of programmes for all types of people. His work had an international scope, and his achievements are found on almost every continent. The architect of many projects, Le Corbusier was also a prolific theorist and his ideas were not only disseminated through his projects and constructions but also through his writings.

When its Tentative List was being revised in the early 2000’s, France added Villa Savoye, one of the emblematic works of Le Corbusier, to its new Tentative List as few “Modern”  works featured on the World Heritage List at the time. Following this, and on the basis of a nomination project for the urban design of Firminy-Vert, where two works of Le Corbusier existed (without counting an unfinished project from that time), a review was conducted by the French Ministry of Culture and the Fondation Le Corbusier on the works of Le Corbusier that could and should be proposed for nomination for the World Heritage List. After initially focusing on the iconic monument of Le Corbusier, the reflection then turned to all of his work and the programmatic categories that they fall into in order to analyse the work and its international influence. This led to cooperation between several States Parties (France, Germany, Argentina, Belgium, Switzerland and India) and a project to develop a transboundary nomination proposal centred on the series of his work and its influence at the international level. On France’s initiative, with the support of the Fondation Le Corbusier, an important preparatory work was initiated to examine the feasibility of a nomination proposal.

In order to provide international support to this serial and transnational nomination proposal of Le Corbusier’s heritage, the France-UNESCO Cooperation Agreement assisted in the organization of two international experts’ meetings by the Fondation Le Corbusier and the French Ministry of Culture. One of them took place at the Fondation Le Corbusier on 18 June 2004 in Paris, followed by a second in Firminy-Vert and at Couvent de la Tourette (France) on 19 June. These information, coordination, and awareness-raising meetings with international experts led to the launch of a working group to put in place a working method in order to develop a nomination proposal. The challenge within the context of the France-UNESCO Cooperation Agreement was to participate in an approach to promote modern heritage, underrepresented at that time on the World Heritage List, and to support reflection on the methodology of a serial and transboundary nominations.

Several meetings organized by France and project partner countries allowed the establishment of an International Committee, composed of experts from the different countries concerned, and coordinated by the Fondation Le Corbusier, which had the responsibility of identifying and defining the nomination criteria, and to select the component parts of a series proposed for nomination, as well as to lay out arguments demonstrating the Outstanding Universal Value of the work. This Committee was set up not only to prepare the nomination proposal but also in order to further work to consolidate or create specific networks such as those of towns where the works of Le Corbusier can be found, or to launch cooperation projects between sites and manage awareness raising activities with the owners involved or local authorities of a famous but nonetheless fragile work.

Afterwards, the World Heritage Centre organized a workshop, with the support of the France-UNESCO Cooperation Agreement, within the framework of the Netherlands Funds in Trust and in partnership with UNESCO’s New Delhi Office and the school of architecture of Chandigarh and Chandigarh’s Administration (India), on the urban conservation of Chandigarh from the 18th to the 21st December 2007.

First submitted in 2008, the nomination proposal was examined during the 33th Session of the World Heritage Committee (Sevilla, 2009), but was referred, and was once again examined during the 35th Session of the World Heritage Committee (Paris, 2011), where it was deferred. A revised version has been submitted in 2015.