- Peter Behrens, Turbine Factory
- Le Corbusier, Villa Savoye
- Frank Lloyd Wright, Fallingwater
- Wright, Fallingwater
- Frank Lloyd Wright, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
- Mies van der Rohe, Seagram Building
- Mies van der Rohe, Seagram Building
- Gordon Bunshaft, Lever House
- Negotiating the past in Berlin: the Palast der Republik
- International Style architecture
Le Corbusier, Villa Savoye, Poissy, France, 1929
"The house is a box in the air,..."
—Le Corbusier, Précisions
Located just outside Paris, the Villa Savoye offered an escape from the crowded city for its wealthy patrons. Its location on a large unrestricted site allowed Le Corbusier total creative freedom. The delicate floating box that he designed is both functional house and modernist sculpture, elegantly melding form and function.
Le Corbusier had been developing his theories on modern architecture throughout the previous decade. In 1920, he founded the journal L’Esprit Nouveau, and many of the essays he published there would eventually be incorporated into his landmark collection of essays, Vers une architecture (Toward an Architecture) in 1923. This book celebrated science, technology, and reason, arguing that modern machines could create highly precise objects not unlike the ideal platonic forms valued by the ancient Greeks. Le Corbusier lavished praise on the totems of modernity—race cars, airplanes, and factories—marveling at the beauty of their efficiency. However, he also argued that beauty lay not only in the newest technology but in ancient works such as the Parthenon, whose refined forms represented, in his view, the perfection of earlier Archaic systems. Le Corbusier sought to isolate what he called type forms, which were universal elements of design that can work together in a system. He found these across time and across the globe, in the fields of architecture and engineering. The many images embedded throughout the text drew striking visual parallels and eloquently expressed his search for modern perfection through universal forms.
Pages from Le Corbusier, Vers une Architecture (Toward an Architecture), 1923
The Villa Savoye incorporated these principles, and also realized many of the concepts expressed in Vers une Architecture. Made of reinforced concrete, the ground floor walls are recessed and painted green so that the house looks like a box floating on delicate pilotis. Visitors arrive by car, in true machine-age fashion. The stark white exterior wall, with its strips of ribbon windows, has a remarkably smooth, planar quality. This stands in contrast to the fluidity of the interior, which is organized by a multistory ramp that leads the viewer on a gently curving path through a building that is nearly square. The contrast between the sharp angles of the plan and the dynamism of the spaces inside charge the house with a subtle energy.
Plan, Le Corbusier, Villa Savoye, Poissy, France, 1929
Essay by Dr. Malka Simon
Want to join the conversation?
- Built of concrete and standing on columns where the wind can blow underneath, it is architecturally beautiful, to be sure, but it must be very expensive to heat in the winter. My question, then, is, "Does an architect have a responsibility to the environment, or just to beauty?(4 votes)
- Certainly environmental and cost concerns took a back seat to design during this period, but the heating and maintenance cost didn't matter as much when designing for a well-to-do owner. While the environmental impact of energy use would concern us today, notice the use of terraced green space---very much a modern desire. The "airflow" design would also be beneficial in a warmer climate, potentially REDUCING cooling costs. So the design could still be quite viable today, depending on location, and of course integrating updated materials technology. But visually, and as a living space, it would still be in line with the original concept.(6 votes)
- how is this maths(2 votes)
- what year was this article written? I am wanting to reference it in an essay but would need a publication date, thanks.(2 votes)
- would a lot of people buy his houses(2 votes)
- Probably, just because the architect was famous, and also, his houses probably had other features that other houses may not have had at the time.(3 votes)