Heidi Weber  Chronologie

August 16th, 1958

First meeting with Le Corbusier. Heidi Weber at the airport in Nice. She is fascinated by Le Corbusier's work as a painter, which is still undiscovered at this time.

September 2nd, 1958

After their first meeting in Cap Martin, Heidi Weber went to Paris on September 2nd, 1958. Heidi Weber discovered Le Corbusier's furniture designs.
 Le Corbusier and Heidi Weber decided that she starts the production of his four chairs and the sale of his art works.

In October 1958

Heidi Weber immediately began to look for premises where the furniture could be produced; luckily, she found a suitable place in the Spiegelgasse which was quite close to her own studio. These premises served as the factory for the four seat and armchair models and production began at the end of October 1958.

April 11th, 1960

While en route to India on April 11th, 1960, Le Corbusier met with Heidi Weber in Zurich in order to catch up on the works in progress. Excited by her new idea and aware that her time with him was limited, she proposed leaving the airport to go for a walk by the lake. When they arrive at the Zurichhorn Park, one of the most prestigious and beautiful locations in the city, Le Corbusier, somewhat surprised, tried to unearth his companion's motivation: “Why are we going for a walk?” Heidi Weber answered him, smiling: “Sir, women always have something at the back of their minds. I would like to build a museum designed by you on this spot!” Le Corbusier was very surprised: “Don't tell me that you will be allowed to build in this beautiful park!” Then, upon reflection, he continued in a grave tone: “You know that I will not do anything for the Swiss; the Swiss have never been nice to me (...).”

Deeply aware that Le Corbusier had been very disappointed by Switzerland in the past when all of the contracts and projects had come to nothing, Heidi Weber answered eloquently: “Personally, I would not even invest 100 CHF in the Swiss - I already wanted to emigrate at the tender age of fourteen! But I know one thing: with your help we can build something non-Swiss in Switzerland, something which will withstand the passage of time and which will transcend borders...” Le Corbusier: “Yes, you are right, we'll show them, the Swiss.” From this moment on, the idea was developed.


On June 23rd, 1960, the Municipal Council of Zurich confirmed the surrender of the property. Heidi Weber informed Le Corbusier of this in a letter, dated two days later.

November 25th, 1960

Viewing the construction site November 25th, 1960.
From right: Heidi Weber, P. Binden, Head of the Garden and Parks Department, Le Corbusier and A. Wasserfallen, Director of the City's Buildings Department


December 5th, 1961

In December 1961, the first plans for a project in concrete arrived.
1961

March 1962

During the following months, Le Corbusier began work on the plans for a construction made of metal and glass. Then he suddenly returned to his initial project in concrete, because, as he said “You never know which enterprise you are launching yourself into with metal.” Finally, thanks to Heidi Weber's encouragements and her perseverance, Le Corbusier then definitively returned to the idea of a metal and glass construction; he was supported by an expert, the engineer Mr. Fruitet, who took on important technical responsibilities. It goes without saying that the different plans and changes caused some bureaucratic challenges and new concessions had to be repeatedly sought from the relevant authorities.

June 14th, 1962

On June 14th, 1962, Le Corbusier drew up a contract, which was amended on November 26th, 1962. This contract granted Heidi Weber (personally, and for a period of thirty years) the exclusive right to buy his works directly from him as well as from the Le Corbusier Foundation which was being developed at that point; it also gave her the right to sell his paintings, drawings, sculptures, enamel pieces, gouaches and collages throughout the whole world.

January 1st, 1963


On January 1st, 1963, the same contract was ratified, extending the period to fifteen years to 1978. This time including the rights for South America.

May 13th, 1964

On May 13th, 1964, the leasehold contract was notarised. At the same time, excavation of the basement, the exhibition and presentation halls was undertaken.The amended building permit for the upper floors in steel and glass was granted by the Building Department II on September 18th, 1964.

June 6th, 1964

In 1964, Le Corbusier, confident in her professional capacities, granted her the exclusive rights to produce his tapestries according to original drawings for thirty years, an undertaking which she pursued until 1994.

October 23rd, 1964

The Production run smoothly and sales were extremely successful – orders were coming in from New York, Hong Kong and from other parts of the world – so much so that Heidi Weber was forced to make an important decision. Her small workshop was working to full capacity and she would not really be able to meet the steady increase of worldwide demand. At this point, she was forced to choose whether she wanted to stay in the furniture business or whether she would prefer to outsource her production and sublicense it to a well established furniture production company.
Cassina S.p.A. a family business in the town of Meda near Milan was one of the many potential licensees. Run by Franco Cassina, this company had been focusing on a limited sector of the furniture market. They specialised in producing wooden interiors for ships and hotels. To break out of this closed market, they needed a new line of furniture and a consumer brand. Heidi Weber convinced their directors that by manufacturing Le Corbusier's furniture they would make an important strategic move to capture the attention of an entirely new consumer group.

After long negotiations, Heidi Weber signed a sublicense contract with Cassina S.p.A. on October 23rd, 1964 which granted them the production and distribution rights for Italy.


July 15th, 1965

... "In his Paris studio, rue de Sèvres, I didn't know that we were meeting for the last time, but when we shook hands at the end of what was to be our ultimate reunion, I felt reinforced by an inexplicable and implacable strength, which filled with confidence in the future. I didn't know that, before were leaving, he was passing his last words on to me, which remained engraved in my memory. Words I still can hear today. With smiling and friendly eyes he said to me:"... now you can go ahead ...""... now you have green light ..."

August 27th, 1965

On August 27th, 1965, Le Corbusier died of a heart attack while swimming in the Mediterranean sea at Cap Martin in Roquebrune.

February 5th, 1966

Faced with Willy Boesiger's reluctance and doubts - even while Le Corbusier was still alive, the site manager had tried to push through changes - Heidi Weber, who had always remained respectful of the plans, refused any modification. Hurt and perhaps insufficiently progressive in spirit, Boesiger released himself from his engagements and responsibilities – “I'm not going to allow myself to be bossed about by a woman” - on February 5th, 1966.
Faced with this grave situation, Heidi Weber signed an agreement on April 4th, 1966, with the architect A. Tavès, one of Le Corbusier's last assistants who had participated in the realisation of the plans, and put him in charge of finishing the museum construction. A. Tavès and his collaborator R. Rebutato immediately resumed the direction of the works until May 1967. Their contract was terminated two and a half months before the inauguration of the building because their interior furnishing of the museum diverged from Le Corbusier's original designs. Thus, Heidi Weber once again found herself in the same situation as she had been with Willy Boesiger previously.

This time, she decided to continue and to manage the works on her own; she had already been doing before for the different sites she had taken on as an interior designer.

July 15th and 16th, 1967

The inauguration of the Centre Le Corbusier was held on July 15th, 1967, and began with an international press reception. Then on July 16th, 1967, Le Corbusier enthusiasts from across the globe attended.


July 17th, 1967

On July 17th, 1967, the general public was invited (1'800 museum visitors turned up). During its first year, 45'000 visitors from all over the world made their way to the Centre Le Corbusier.
1967

1968

Action poster wall – aktivities and exhibitions since 1967

With a variety of exhibitions and activities Heidi Weber awakens an interest in Le Corbusier's artistic oeuvre. By underlining Le Corbusier's universality she makes clear that his activities go far beyond just architectural planning. His urban utopias and socially critical approach are being discussed and environmental issues addressed. Heidi Weber's events, presentations, publications, films and discussion panels are intended to encourage a consciousness for cultural questions and an awareness of people.
The dark side: Heidi Weber stands in front of a mountain of debt of 635'000 Swiss francs (current value ca. 3'000'000 Swiss francs) by massively exceeding the construction budget, because no compromises about the construction could be agreed upon after Le Corbusier's death. A financial collapse threatens: the levy of a execution officer pounds on the door every second day with new payment summons. Four construction lawsuits weigh on Heidi Weber's shoulders. Further battles have to be mastered. None of Le Corbusier's affluent friends are willing to stand by her side.

September 4th, 1968

Political youth movement of 1968
"Six-day race" of the Zurich Manifesto in the Centre Le Corbusier, speaker: Gottfried Honegger.

September 4th – 9th, 1968

In historical documents it is mentioned that Heidi Weber's support of socialist ideologies during the 1968 protest movement was a thorn in the flesh of the political authorities. She had, for example, made the museum available as a platform for free discussions from September 4th – 9th, 1968, to the “Zurich manifesto” group, an event referred to in the annals as the "six-day race in the Centre Le Corbusier". The Zurich manifesto was drafted by Max Frisch, Gottfried Honegger and nineteen other personalities from the political, cultural and scientific communities. They sympathised with the youth of Zurich who, at the time, were fighting for an autonomous youth centre which led to the political disturbances that became known as the "Globuskrawall". Then, on her own initiative, Heidi Weber started a progressive "Forum for Environmental Issues" in the building. As a proactive woman with political ambitions, she was far ahead of the zeitgeist of her day and this made her unacceptable to the political establishment.
Heidi Weber was considered a political agitator and registered in the secret files (in the context of the Secret Files Scandal of 1989).

July 1st, 1969

To save the financially threatened museum and to avoid bankruptcy, Heidi Weber was forced to sell a part of her collection under the title "Fifty works by Le Corbusier" at Sotheby's, London in 1969. The sale is surprisingly successful.
Le Corbusier - The Lithographic Work
The Political Poster
New Urbanism
Olivetti's Image
Children see their Settlement
UNESCO Colloquium for the Protection of Cultural Goods

September 1970

To save the Centre Le Corbusier a patronage committee was formed. The committee issued a public appeal for a municipal subsidy. The "Patronage Committee Centre Le Corbusier" comprising National Councillor Max Arnold, Max Frisch, Gottfried Honegger, Professor Lucius Burckhardt and several architects deposited a petition with 400 signatures at city hall. Specifically the committee requested an annual subsidy of CHF 280'000.
The aim was to cofinance further activities at the Centre Le Corbusier, where the newly founded Forum for environmental Projects for the Public had been set up. Heidi Weber was no longer able to meet the cost of the temporary exhibitions, the general running costs and the upkeep of the museum alone, since the costs for the museum per year are 350'000 Swiss francs.
The public outcry of the patronage committee in 1970 did not help to influence the city council. Max Frisch even suggested to the media that the building, which could be disassembled, should be listed in the "For Sale" column of the New York Times.

Excerpt – Exhibitions & Workshops 1970

Zurich - Diagnosis and Therapy for a City
Fernand Leger & Ideas for a Colourful City
Architecture as Consumer Goods
Concerned Photography

May 1971

In 1971, shortly after women's voting rights had been granted, Heidi Weber stood for election as a municipal councillor and became the victim of electoral fraud. She made the inconsistencies public in a court case and the elections had to be rerun. Due to her sense of justice, she acquired further enemies.

Excerpt – Exhibitions & Workshops 1971 – 77
Constructing for Equality
Environment, Utopia and Reality
Public Transport - An Opportunity for Zurich
Architecture as Consumer Goods
De l'esquisse a l'ceuvre (From Sketch to Masterpiece)
Gottlieb Duttweiler Institut “Self-help Organisation” (Le Corbusier - Community – Workshop/CoCo)
Le Corbusier - The Artist
Zurich discovers Le Corbusier
Le Corbusier - Women

1977 – 1979

Between 1977 – 1979, Heidi Weber made her museum available to the Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute, a research arm of the Migros group, without any charge, so that the building would be open to an interested public. The Migros cooperation financed the maintenance costs and activities with a generous contribution. The institute established a "Forum for Communal Issues", called “CoCo”, which stood for “Corbusier Community Workshop”.

Parallel to this Heidi Weber continued to exhibit other artistic works by Le Corbusier on the lower floor of the building that had been specially designed for this purpose.

1979 – 1984

The museum has to close.

The two-year contract with the Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute was not renewed because the forum had caused substantial damage to the building and its facilities, as well as not complying with the contractual terms. Thereafter the edifice remained closed for several years (1979 – 1984). Regular opening hours were impossible as Heidi Weber was unable to finance the full costs out of her own pocket. The museum and the permanent exhibition could, however, still be viewed by interested parties upon request.

The steel construction had to be renovated regularly; an expensive undertaking since there was no standard procedure for the innovative concept. During its construction in the 1960s technical expertise and sometimes the courage to try out something entirely new had been required. The cost of upkeep and renovation, the mortgage and the general running costs continued even though the museum was not open to the public.

Financial burden: An annual budget prepared by professionals for the Centre Le Corbusier presented the situation as follows: Operating the museum all year round with three temporary exhibitions approximately CHF 1.5 mio. Estimated average income from entrance fees CHF 250'000. In the 1970s it had not been significantly cheaper to operate a museum, so how did Heidi Weber manage to finance the museum during 50 years?


November 1984

Heidi Weber stated that she was prepared to try and organise a fundraising campaign to obtain private funding for the museum: her efforts were to remain unsuccessful. In return she expected to receive a municipal subsidy of CHF 100'000 in order to continue running the museum. The city considered applying for an additional credit which ultimately, however, was not approved.

March 28th, 1985

March 28th, 1985, the Heidi Weber Foundation renewed its application of November 27th, 1984, and reapplied for a minimum of CHF 100'000 to facilitate longer opening hours.
On the occasion of the Le Corbusier centennial in 1987, Heidi Weber planned three large exhibitions to be realised in the years 1985, 1986 and 1987. The total costs were projected at CHF 650'000.

Owing to financial pressures and the rapidly approaching deadline, Heidi Weber urgently requested the city for a definite statement in the matter on May 25th, 1985. The concepts for the exhibitions were ready, but the length of the museum's opening hours depended on the size of the municipal grant.
On May 28th, 1985, Heidi Weber contacted Dr. Hoby by phone who subsequently informed her that the city had no funds available for additional credits.


A sculpture exhibition was planned for 1985 – the largest outside of France, to be followed in 1986 by an artistic analysis of Le Corbusier's literary works.
Finally in 1987, a complete exhibition celebrating the Le Corbusier centennial was to offer insights and impressions into Le Corbusier's entire range of artistic works as homo universalis.
Conclusion: In the end, the city did not contribute a single Swiss franc to Le Corbusier's centennial celebration.

1986

"There do not exist sculptors only, painters only, architects only. The plastic event fulfills itself in an overall form in duty of poetry."
(Le Corbusier)
These words were written by Le Corbusier in 1962 when Heidi Weber asked him about his specialization.
Heidi Weber decided to pull out of the fruitless negotiations and went on to realise the exhibition cycle without any contributions from the city.

May 21st, 1987

Exhibition opening for the 100th anniversary of Le Corbusier.
To celebrate the Le Corbusier centennial, the Heidi Weber building was opened to the general public on July 18th and 19th, 1987, free of charge. 1'800 museum visitors received a reproduction of four of the artist's oil paintings as a gift.

December 2nd, 1987


To save the financially threatened museum and to avoid bankruptcy, Heidi Weber was forced to sell again a part of her collection under the title "Thirty-five works by Le Corbusier" at Sotheby's, London in 1987.

May 1988

Summer exhibition: Le Corbusier – The Artist. Parallel to this Heidi Weber published a new art book – LE CORBUSIER – THE GRAPHIC WORK. It was published to mark thirty years of mediation and collectorship by Heidi Weber
1958 – 1988. A second Edition was published in 2004.

September 1988

In september Heidi Weber published "Le Corbusier – The Artist" with works from her collection. Heidi Weber was awarded the Gold Medal for the book at the International Art Book Exhibition Leipzig by an international jury in 1989.

May 1990
Summer exhibition: Le Corbusier – "Muralnomades" Tapestries
With an eye on the future, Le Corbusier proclaimed that his woollen wall carpets would allow themselves to be taken down, rolled up under one's arm and taken to the next dwelling where they could be hung up again as a wall painting. He called his tapestries 'nomadic murals', because man is a nomad.

Summer 1999

Exhibition in Apolda
Extention of the programme "Weimar 1999 – Cultural City of Europe".

1999

On occasion of the exhibition Heidi Weber published the Catalogue "Le Corbusier – Painter, Designer, Sculptor, Poet" with a main selection of her private collection.

2007

The forty-year anniversary of the Heidi Weber Museum – Centre Le Corbusier had come around
The renowned National Museum Reina Sofia in Madrid dedicated a 1'000 square meter retrospective exhibition named "Le Corbusier – Museo y Coleccion Heidi Weber", as a tribute to Heidi Weber's dedication to the cause of Le Corbusier. It generated a tremendous amount of public interest and response.


May 2008

Heidi Weber celebrated the anniversary of her first encounter with Le Corbusier in 1958 with an exhibition in her own Zurich museum titled “50 years Ambassador for Le Corbusier”. It showed her many pioneering activities along with outstanding artwork from her private collection. A book was published in parallel with the exhibition titled "Heidi Weber 50 Years Ambassador for Le Corbusier".

September 2008

Heidi Weber Foundation Award 2008 for Dr. Naïma & Jean Pierre Jornod by Heidi Weber.
More than eight years the authors Dr. Naïma and Jean-Pierre Jornod researched and documented for her almost 1200-pages catalogue of the painted works of Le Corbusier. For this excellente work, published in two volumes, Heidi Weber awarded in September 2010 the Heidi Weber Foundation Award for the first time.


January 2nd – March 25th, 2010

For the first time Heidi Weber presented over 140 exhibits of her private collection in South America: Oil paintings, drawings, lithographs, engravings, sculptures, tapestries, furniture and models of the final building, the Heidi Weber Museum – Center Le Corbusier. She presented the universality and genius of Le Corbusier as a painter, sculptor, graphic artist, designer, mastermind and architect.

July 2010

Summer exhibition on the theme “Le Corbusier - Machines for Living”, in parallel a spectacular scientific publication is being published.
In a critical historical debate and with a particular and profund focus on the authorship of documentary, the author describes in 388 pages the different levels and phases of development of the world famous furniture of Le Corbusier, that Heidi Weber has brought to productivity and which she first presented to the public in 1959.
On September 30th, 2010, Heidi Weber and her son Bernhard were invited to a meeting at city hall. The city wanted to know more about Heidi Weber's plans for the future. The City Mayor professed interest in finding a constructive solution.

August 2013

The media had spoken of the slumbering castle of modern art, a stigma of Switzerland's negative cultural politics, a sleeping beauty of an architectural jewel, permanently locked doors and a mystery shrouded building. In fact the museum had always presented exhibitions and been open to the public during the three summer months from July to September on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

December 2013

The second edition of the Heidi Weber Foundation Award for Vincent Masucci in Argentina. Vincent Masucci erhält für seine umfassende Publikation "Le Corbusier – Machines for Living, Furniture: a critical history" den Heidi Weber Foundation Award.
His publication is an historical treatment of the furniture of Le Corbusier which approaches the subject from various points of view. It not only focuses upon the models themselves and the stages of their industrial development but also attempts to uncover the reason for their existence and to describe how and why their intended significance changed over the years.

March 5th, 2014

Lecture and book launch: Naïma Jornod (l), authoress of "Heidi Weber Museum, Le Corbusier's Final Architectural Testament". A facinating documentary about LC's architecural legacy and the unconditional "enforcement" by its Contracting Authority and building owner Heidi Weber.
The AA is one of the world's most prestigious sites of architectural education in London. The teaching is dominated by personalities from the field of architecture.


May 13th, 2014

From left to right: Prof. Dr. Richner (Heidi Weber Foundation), Corine Mauch (President of the City Council of Zurich), Peter Hearle (Cultural Director), Heidi Weber (Initiator and building owner), Bernard Weber (Heidi Weber Foundation)

Escheat after 50 Years. The Heidi Weber Museum – Centre Le Corbusier became the property of the city of Zurich.
The city of Zurich is planning to establish a public foundation within the next two years. The Heidi Weber Museum - Centre Le Corbusier is now under monument protection and to be continued in Heidi Weber's and Le Corbusier's spirit.

May 30th, 2015

Respect. Recognition. Appreciation.
Honor of Heidi Weber by the VSI.ASAI (Vereinigung Schweizer Innenarchitekten/Architektinnen)