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Construction Guide

 

During the years of planning permission debate in the Zurich city council, supporting voices along with very negatives ones grew louder in the press. Hoping that Le Corbusier would not learn of this, I told him nothing. So when he said: „Madame, n'est-ce pas, vous avez des problèmes avec vos Suisses?“ „Madame, is it true that you are having problems with your Swiss?“ I answered clearly and firmly: „Non Monsieur je n'ai pas de problèmes; tous va bien, les problèmes sont là pour les resoudre.“ „No, Monsieur, I don't have any problems, all is well. Problems are there to be solved.“ “

 

As I approached him in his small, private room (226 x 226 cm) in the rue de Sèvres studio, Le Corbusier's face looked unfamiliarly strained. Normally, the small table was covered with lots of files for our work. On this day, it was covered with cuttings of newspaper reports, articles from the Zurich press. I was startled and knew at once that it was the negative reports Le Corbusier had been given, and from one of his so-called best Swiss friends, Professor Alfred Roth from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich). In an angry, strict tone of voice he asked me: „Vous qui dites toujours que tous va bien.“ „You, who always say that everything is fine.“ „Qu'est-ce que vous dites de ça?“ „What have you got to say about this?“ and he pointed to a mountain of newspaper clippings about the long battle for planning permission in the city council. In this very delicate situation, I don't know how I managed to have the needed reply ready. In an energetic, definitive voice I answered: „Monsieur, I found it completely unnecessary to inform you about my difficulties. The most important thing is that we both know what we want.“ Relived and with a gleam in his eye, he replied: „Yes, you are right, we will show the Swiss.“ In this awkward situation, I prevented the entire project from being declared a failure thanks to my clear-cut answer.“ And then I would have, disappointedly: „Je ne ferai pas cette maison!“ „I won't complete the house.“ And the worst thing about it is that I would never have recovered

 

The story got complicated when the construction permit for the 2,425-square-metre building came up for discussion in the city council. After the publication of some critical newspaper stories, negative voices grew loud. I was also well aware that Le Corbusier was no longer the youngest, so a marathon against time began for me. I was driven by an inner power. I met three quarters of the councilmen in the city hall, some 75 in all, one after the other, over two or three months, every Wednesday. Back then there were no women in politics and when it comes to the equality of women in Switzerland one can read about how my joyous, young-spirited self gave a short guest performance in politics in Visionen und Taten – Aus dem Leben von Heidi Weber (Heidi Weber legt eine Bombe) „Visions and Deeds – From the Life of Heidi Weber (Heidi Weber plants a Bomb)“.

 

When I visited Le Corbusier in May 1963 at rue de Sèvres as usual, his secretary received me with a worried face: „Madame, you have arrived on a most unfavourable day. Monsieur Le Corbusier is in a very bad mood.“ I knew that something awful in connection with the museum project must have happened. He was always in good cheer in previous years and constantly looked forward to my visit.