Completed in 1931, Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye not only transformed the Swiss architect’s career but has long been seen as one of the most important contributions to modern architecture, even being included in UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
Located in a commune just outside of Paris, Villa Savoye is a true icon of modern architecture, drawing on the innovative engineering that emerged in the early 20th century and encompassing a new take on spatial planning and minimalism.
The Five Points
Le Corbusier created his “five points”, a list of elements he felt should be incorporated into design stemming from his admiration of mechanised design in areas outside of architecture. These five points are pilotis (columns, pillars or stilts that lift a building above the ground), a flat roof terrace, open plan spaces, ribbon windows and free facades. Many of these elements originally stem from Le Corbusier’s contemporary interest in steamboat design, in which these five points were often represented. All five of these elements take centre stage in Villa Savoye, with the pilotis that lift the building above the ground, the flat roof that is both a garden and terrace, sliding ribbon windows curving around the building and allowing for an abundance of daylight and a free façade not tied in to the load-bearing structure beneath.
Truly modern design
A Modernist version of the stereotypical French country house, Villa Savoye was designed as a weekend escape for the Savoye family by both Le Corbusier and his cousin – architect and furniture designer – Pierre Jeanneret. It was key in the development of the International Style of Modernism, or International Style, which is characterised by an emphasis on volume, asymmetry and minimal ornamentation. The client allowed Le Corbusier to work with very few restrictions, resulting in this epitome of his Modern eye.
The spaces in the home have been so designed to maximise efficiency, while maintaining the minimalist aesthetic the architect is so well-known for. The lower, ground-level structure provides space for home maintenance and servicing, this façade painted green to blend in with the forest around the plot of land, while the white upper level draws the eye and displays the living space as the most important volume in the building design.