Villa Savoye is a very familiar name for everyone who studied architecture or at least has some architecture knowledge but unfortunately outside this niche Villa Savoye goes practically unknown.
Since I’m in Paris now it was a kind of a moral obligation towards my studies and educational background to go and see with my eyes this turning point Villa that internationally changed the rules of conceiving and realising Architecture.
A manifesto for Modernity
The weekend Villa for the Savoye family was built between 1928 and 1931 in Poissy, in the western suburbs of Paris.
This box supported only by pillars was the culmination of Le Corbusier’s research of his new architectural aesthetic summed up in his “Five Points of New Architecture” that are easily recognisable in his masterpiece. These are a list of prescribed elements to be incorporated in design to make sure a building is primarily functional.
The house is a machine for living.
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The Five Points of New Architecture
- Pilotis, the ground-level supporting columns. They elevate the building from the ground allowing the garden to flow beneath;
- Roof garden, allows to use the flat roof terrace for domestic purposes;
- Free plan, made possible by the elimination of load-bearing walls. It frees the interior allowing an open-plan design in which light partitions are sufficient to separate the different living areas;
- Free-floating facade, consists of a non-load-bearing facade and they were freely placed on the pilotis;
- Horizontal window, made possible because of the absence of load-bearing facades. They create light and airy interiors, qualities which were highly valued in that period.
Providing a “promenade architecturale” Le Corbusier incorporates a series of ramps moving from the lower level all the way to the rooftop terraces. The house has to be experienced in the movement through the spaces.
For Le Corbusier, architecture has to get rid of superfluous decorations, it has to embrace the beauty of functionalism and rationalism and be built using advanced technological methods of the time in order to improve the lives of its inhabitants.
Le Corbusier treated the terrace as a room without a ceiling, reflecting his desire to fully integrate landscape and architecture. But that’s not all, he even believed in the health benefits of fresh air and sunshine and considered time spent outdoor one of the main features of a modern lifestyle. The terrace and solarium allowed the Savoye family to spend time outdoor in the most efficient way possible following the principle that the house was a machine designed to maximize leisure.
Even though it was a bright and blue day when I visited it, to me Villa Savoye is in black and white as it was on my books when I was studying and learning about it. If you’re curious this is the main book I studied on.
If you visit the Villa the architectural tour takes about an hour and goes though the entire house proving you with plenty of information about it. Absolutely well done. Guided tours are available both in French and English.