Discussing architecture of Modernism, people can hardly omit the impact of Le Corbusier’ works and the visions of this powerful and unique designer of the 1900s. He is the author of numerous impressive buildings in Europe and America. Each his project remains to be a significant contribution to the world of architecture and design. It is hard to identify one particular building that can be called the best work of Le Corbusier. Therefore, people try to rely on their own opinions and tastes. In this paper, Villa Savoye, created by Le Corbusier between 1929 and 1931 in France (Ching, Jarzombek and Prakash 685), will be analyzed and introduced as an influential work of world architecture that has to be considered by all modern architectures and design admirers due to its complicated and attractive structure and the necessity to comprehend the intentions Le Corbusier could have in regards to this construction. Villa Savoye is one of the frequently discussed projects created by Le Corbusier; still, the discussions should be based on the evaluation of both, negative and positive, aspects of the work and their impact on how people understand Le Corbusier as well as the details and the place of the chosen building in the world of architecture.
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Villa Savoye is located in Poissy, a western commune near Paris, France. This building has a long and interesting history as well as complicated and interesting structure. Many people get a chance only to observe this building from the pages of their books, journals, or screens of their PCs. Some people are lucky to look at this construction with their own eyes because France defined Villa Savoye as its own property and declared it as a historical monument officially.
The peculiar feature of this construction is the use of columns to support and raise the building of the ground. Not many modernist architects were ready to take such a serious step and create the massive construction on the several columns introduced in a kind of golden ratio. Le Corbusier paid much attention to geometry in his works, and the chosen Villa seemed to be the best example of the importance of symmetry, size, and his famous five points (pilotis, roof garden, free plan, ribbon window, and free façade) (Risselada, Loos, Le Corbusier, and Beek 54). Each stage of the building has its purpose and impact on people, who visit it. Le Corbusier himself admitted that this villa corresponded to all these five points and could be identified as “a machine for living in” (Shapiro 21). First, it is hard to avoid the fact that the whole building is located above the ground. Thanks to such approach, this part of the building seems to be a kind of garden’s continuation and the possibility of people to be close to nature. No bearing walls and constructions help to add more light and air at this stage. The only thing that helps to unite and different the stages of the building is the staircases that gain different forms in the middle of the building. Second, there is a flat roof that can be used as a garden, a swimming pool, the solarium, or even a playground in regards to the needs of the inhabitants of the building. At the same time, the idea to use flat roofs has its own shortages such as the impossibility to control the amounts of water when it rains.
It turns out to be impossible to protect the building, and first owners of the building sued the architect because of the poor decision being made. Another area for consideration is the inside of the construction. There are no massive walls or windows that could deprive a person of the opportunity to enjoy the space and beauty of the building. In addition, ribbon windows were chosen instead of frequently used vertical windows. From the outside, it seems like the house has small windows that could hardly provide the required portion of enlightening in the living rooms. Still, from the outside, people cannot guess the actual sizes of the rooms inside. In fact, all windows are located on the perimeter of the upper volume. Horizontal windows promote appropriate ventilation and light in all rooms. “Air circulates everywhere, there is light at every point, it penetrates everywhere” (Porteous 52). In the living area, Le Corbusier focused on zoning and indicated certain private and public places that follow an open plan idea and freely-designed facades with the help of which all weight of the construction could be centered on the bearing columns. Villa Savoye does not have the rooms of the same size. The architect also tried to introduce different forms of rooms to underline the idea of multiplicity in a human life. In fact, the chosen building may have a number of impacts on people, and each person is free to take the necessary lessons after the evaluating Villa Savoye.
The description of Villa Savoye shows that it is not an ordinary building because of several reasons. First, it is possible to say that Le Corbusier did not create some projects only. He wanted to provide people with a chance to think and evaluate the ordinary situations in the most appropriate for them ways. Second, the history of the building is impressive indeed because it survived the World War II and the intentions to demolish it in the 1960s (Rice & Littlefield 10). Still, people, especially students, wanted to protect Villa Savoye as a significant architectural construction. Finally, there is another reason to pay more attention to this construction. It is connected with the lessons people can take from it. Le Corbusier helped to realize that properly created buildings can make people happy. The architect wanted to provide people with an opportunity to be free even being inside the house. Though the main goal of this project is to create a place for living, it seems like the house is a kind of architectural promenade.
There are no mirrors to enlarge the actual space. Still, the windows make people forget about the boundaries, and the absence of bearing walls make people realize how invisible the actual support could be. People, who visit this building, cannot even believe that it was created for living in. Even the location of service rooms such as kitchen, laundry, and maids room is impressive. On the one hand, the ground floor demonstrates some kind of inequality of the inhabitants. On the other hand, even being on the ground floor does not mean to be offended or insulted because of the beauty of the area and the possibility to enjoy the nature. The spiral stairs develop a feeling of intrigue and adventure that captivates the inhabitants. Their location (in the center of the building) is also not random. It seems like the architect wanted to offer its inhabitants the choices where to go even being limited by the stairs.
In fact, it is hard to believe that all these emotions and feelings could be caused by one empty building located in the suburb of France. Therefore, people should pay more attention to such buildings and their possible impact on architecture, education, or even environment. This architectural project turns out to be influential because it helps to connect so many spheres of life as well as to comprehend the whims of people. The first inhabitants of the houses, who were not satisfied with the shortages of the building refused to live in it, proved that not all people were always ready to estimate the beauty that was priceless. They showed the way how many people were eager to exchange their freedoms and connection with nature to comfort and stability that could be promoted by high technologies. Though Le Corbusier used certain technological innovations and approaches to create a strong building, there were not enough to create a perfect from all aspects building. Nowadays, it becomes an example of how variable architecture could be.
In general, Villa Savoye is one of the most impressive and captivating buildings of the beginning of the 1900s. Though it was not perfect, it was still close to architectural perfection. Unfortunately, not all people are able to understand the beauty of such buildings in times. The result of such uncertainty and a kind of human weakness is the necessity to make this building as a governmental property and the inability for people if it could be a perfect place for living in.
Ching, Francis, D.K., Mark M. Jarzombek, and Vikramaditya Prakash. A Global History of Architecture. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, 2010. Print.
Porteous, Colin. The New Eco-Architecture: Alternatives from the Modern Movement. Taylor & Francis, 2013. Print.
Rice, Louis and David Littlefield. Transgression: Towards an Expanded Field of Architecture. New York: Routledge, 2014. Print.
Risselada, Max, Adolf Loos, Le Corbusier, and Johan van de Beek. Raumplan versus Plan Libre: Adolf Loos/Le Corbusier. Rotterdam: 010 Publishers, 2008. Print.
Shapiro, Gideon Fink. “Architecture and the Art of Discovery.” The Mind’s Eye. (2013): 16-21. Print.