Architecture can be challenging to understand and analyse because every person may perceive the same piece differently. In this assignment, the focus will be placed on analysing the architectural value of the Villa Savoye, designed by Le Corbusier who was a Swiss-French designer and architect, one of the pioneers of the modern style of architecture. Villa Savoye is an outstanding example of the modern style of architecture and it encapsulates the most prominent features of the style, as we know it today.
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Villa Savoye will be analysed from several perspectives, namely, its overall design, the use of colour, tone, contrasts, the utilisation of materials, their qualities and textures, and the relationship of the building’s design to architecture inherent to the same era. Apart from giving a detailed analysis of Villa Savoye’s exterior and interior, I would like to elaborate on my personal views of the design through reflective writing.
Upon the first look, there are geometric shapes that dominate the exterior of Villa Savoye. The building has a smooth facade and is ‘standing’ on long circular slender columns to create an illusion of floatiness. The main section of the villa is a rectangle with a long ribbon of large square windows along the walls (Simon n.d.). A roof terrace is another important feature of Villa Savoye. The walls of the ground floor are recessed and are intentionally painted green to make an illusion that the building is floating in the air among nature.
Le Corbusier used plastered masonry and reinforced concrete, which were modern construction materials in the twenties and thirties (Villa Savoye – Le Corbusier 2014). Because the initial idea behind the building was creating a free plan and an open space, such strong materials as reinforced concrete provided the necessary structural integrity.
The building has direct associations with words such as geometry, shapes, and edges. The stark contrast between white walls of the first floor and green walls of the ground floor creates a unique visual illusion of the building floating in the air. As to the interior design of Villa Savoye, straight and clean edges blend together with curve-like shapes and structures that bend in the direction of the garden on the rooftop, which is a design choice that intentionally challenges the clean-cut of the exterior facade (Villa Savoye – Le Corbusier 2014).
The use of contrasting colours, as well as the combination of different geometric shapes, adds to the abstract impression of the building. In my opinion, Le Corbusier wanted the building to stand out from the surroundings, further underlining the contrast between the stark lines of the facade and the blending of different shades of green of nature.
Both staticity and movement are present in the architectural choices of Villa Savoye. While the building has a light and ‘floating’ quality to it, the use of concrete points to the fact that structural solidity was the primary intention of the architect. As the large transparent windows bring light into the interior of the Villa, the solid white walls reflect that light, creating an airy atmosphere. It is evident that Corbusier intended to allow as much light into the building as possible due to the positive benefits of natural light to health.
The open plan space that dominates the interior adds to the concept of an airy atmosphere where a person feels free and unrestricted in movements. In my opinion, the abundance of the natural light is the most appealing feature of the building’s interior. As to the exterior, the choice of white and green colours creates a unique balance between nature and architectural design, which is often hard to achieve.
Finding an architectural piece to compare to Villa Savoye may not be as easy as it seems. To stay within the framework of the modern style, it was chosen to look at Finn Juhl’s house located in Copenhagen (Thompson 2016). The building is also famous for being created with the intention of getting away from the busy life and getting closer to nature since Finn Juhl, a Danish architect, built the house for himself and his wife (Finn Juhl’s house 2016). The building has a distinct L-shape and only one level, which makes it look one with the surrounding nature. In comparison with Villa Savoye, there are no ‘floating’ illusions; however, the house seems more home-like and comfortable.
While the Villa has a distinct feature of large windows located in a line, Juhl’s windows are almost floor-to-ceiling to allow the natural light to come in. It must be mentioned that Juhl and Corbusier took different approaches to design. The latter focused on combining complex combinations of shapes with the simplicity of colours. Juhl, on the other hand, placed the main emphasis on the colours of the house’s interior and the design of furniture, which he had created himself.
Finn Juhl’s house 2016. Web.
Simon, M n.d., Le Corbusier, Villa Savoye. Web.
Thompson, I 2016, Get the look: Finn Juhl’s Copenhagen house. Web.
Villa Savoye – Le Corbusier 2014. Web.