Pierre Jeanneret




Pierre Jeanneret was born into a Swiss middle-class family in Geneva on 22 March 1896. His father was a surgeon. In 1912, his cousin Charles-Edouard Jeanneret, who was 25 years old at the time, came to live with the family for a while. Pierre Jeanneret began his studies at the École des Beaux-Arts in Geneva where he was a brilliant student. He received the highest marks in painting, sculpture and architecture in 1915. He was called for his military service between 1916 and 1917 and after that he continued his studies in Switzerland until 1921.


In 1921, he decided to leave Switzerland for Paris. There, he joined the agency of the Perret brothers (thanks to a letter of introduction by Le Corbusier who had worked for them 10 years earlier).

Despite having similar ideas regarding the need for new form of architecture, Le Corbusier parted company with Auguste Perret because of their differences on urbanism and mass housing. Pierre Jeanneret then decided to join his cousin. He became his official collaborator in 1923. Between 1923 and 1940, the “Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret” company produced several projects.


From 1936, Pierre Jeanneret also worked outside the agency with Charlotte Perriand on pieces of furniture. In 1936, they designed furniture for the office of the Minister of Agriculture. In 1937, they presented the Refuge Bivouac for mountain hikers at the International Exhibition. From 1938, Pierre Jeanneret began to design buildings on his own.


In 1940, with Charlotte Perriand, Jean Prouvé and Georges Blanchon, Pierre Jeanneret set up an architectural studio to meet the need for emergency structures to replace buildings destroyed during the war: the “écoles volantes” (flying shcools) for example.

In December 1940, Pierre Jeanneret joined the BCC (Central Construction Bureau) and it was then that he parted ways with Le Corbusier. The BCC had been developed by Georges Blanchon to rebuild offices and business sites in the South of France which had had to be moved during the war. Their main task was to design prefabricated buildings which could be dismantled and transported, as well as light furniture.

In 1944, Jeanneret returned to Paris where he set up a new architectural studio with Georges Planchon. He also worked with Charlotte Perriand, Jean Prouvé and Jean Bossu. With this new studio, Pierre Jeanneret was able to work on various projects for schools, apartment blocks and individual houses. In 1949, the collaboration with Georges Planchon came to an end. In the years 1949–1950, Pierre Jeanneret, in collaboration with Domingo Escorsa, built a technical school in Béziers which is recognised today as one of his major works and has been listed as a historic monument. He also spent some time in the United States designing furniture for Knoll & Associates.




In 1951, Pierre Jeanneret left for Chandigarh where he worked with Le Corbusier, Edwin Maxwell Fry and Jane Beverly Drew.

Between 1951 and 1965 they designed and built public housing, private houses, schools, hospitals, libraries, cultural and administrative buildings and shops, as well as the University of Punjab campus, including the auditorium: the Gandhi Bhawan, which is his best known work. He continued to design lightweight furniture and also did town planning for other cities in the region.

Pierre Jeanneret was named Chief Architect and Planning Consultant for the state of Punjab in 1954 and he held this position until 1965. He also became the principal of the School of Architecture of Chandigarh.

In 1965, Pierre Jeanneret had to leave India permanently because of health problems and he returned to Geneva. He died in Geneva on 4 December 1967.











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