Monday, March 14, 2011

Assignment 1 - The Villa Savoye

- The Villa Savoye is a Modernist house designed by Swiss architects Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret, constructed between 1928 and 1931.
- Originally built as a countryside retreat for the Savoye family, the house fell into disuse after 1940, and was eventually designated as an official historical monument in 1965.
- One of the most renowned examples of the International Style, which revolted against the traditional tendency of creating the building as a solid block and focused on the exploration of the volumetric intricacies of the structure's space.
- Corbusier described the villa as a "machine for living in" - a projection of the future where the machine brought a higher level of living.
- The house comprises two contrasting yet interpenetrating external aspects, however the dominant aspect is the white (symbolising purity and simplicity - two qualities promoted by Modernism) square box lifted above the ground floor by slender pilotis. These simple geometrical forms Corbusier believed were the embodiment of the age of machines. Corbusier claimed that it was the combination of these shapes with light that revealed profound architectural beauty.
- The villa was constructed according to Corbusier's "Five Points" of architecture:
* Use of pilotis, elevating the building from the earth and allowing passage to a higher intellectual plane.
* A functional roof, serving as a garden and terrace, allowing for the reclamation for nature of land lost through the house's construction.
* A free-floor plan relieved of load-bearing walls, allowing for walls to be placed purely for aesthetic purposes.
* Long horizontal windows, allowing in maximum light.
* Free facades, unconstrained by load-bearing considerations.
- The glass walls on the ground floor and on the roof top terraces allow for a blurring of the boundaries between interior and exterior. This establishes a relationship between the plan and its surroundings, bringing the outside in, as well as allowing the interior to dictate the exterior.
- Greenery is a vital part of the architectural language of the house. From the outside, the house is framed by the landscape, while the rectangular window at the top of the ramp reverses this relationship - with the landscape framed by the house.
- A section of the house reveals a basic pattern to the world's planes of living, represented by the different levels of the structure:
* The Cave - being immersed within the earth.
* The Pilotis - connecting us to the earth's surface.
* The habitation - an extension of, and elevation from, the earth's surface.
* The solarium - the sun and sky.
- Movement is a key theme present in the Villa Savoye, with the house being an example of extreme spatial dynamism.
- There is a definite underlying spatial pattern to the house, with walls bulging and curving to push and pull at spaces and draw the occupant from room to room. Tiles vary from diagonal to orthographical, depending on whether the room was designed to be moved through quickly or to be lingered in. Ramps replace stairs as the prominent means of travel between floors, allowing rapid and easy movement. These ramps are a key symbol for this idea of free-flowing movement within the house.
- The defined sense of circulation experienced in the house begins as early as the approach up the driveway. As you approach there are glimpses of the house through the trees. The moment the car enters the promenade one feels the sensation of moving through and experiencing the villa, with the curved glass of the ground floor facade allowing glimpses into the interior. There is a sense of a progression through cleverly linked spaces that allow a gradual exploration of the building.
- Human experience is at the core of the house.

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