Villa Savoye .

Saturday, January 30, 2010

It is considered to be one of the seminal works of Swiss architect Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris, popularly known as Le Corbusier. Situated at Poissy, outside of Paris, it is one of the most recognizable architectural presentations of the International Style. Construction was substantially completed in 1929.
The Villa Savoye was designed as a weekend country house and is situated just outside of the city of Poissy in a meadow which was originally surrounded by trees. The polychromatic interior contrasts with the primarily white exterior. Vertical circulation is facilitated by ramps as well as stairs. The house fell into ruin during World War II but has since been restored and is open for viewing.

Conceptual Sketches
Le Corbusier’s ideas emphasized a set of standardized solutions, best described in his 'Five Points of a Modern Architecture; which some say he likened to the five classical orders are as follows :

1. The Supports
To solve a problem scientifically means in the first place to distinguish between its elements. Hence in the case of a building a distinction can immediately be made between the supporting and the non- supporting elements. The earlier foundations, on which the building rested without a mathematical check, are replaced by individual foundations and the walls by individual supports. Both supports and support foundations that are precisely calculated according to the burdens they are called upon to carry. These supports are spaced out at specific, equal intervals, with no thought for the interior arrangement of the building. They rise directly from the floor to 3, 4, 6, etc. meters and elevate the ground floor. The rooms are thereby removed from the dampness of the soil; they have light and air; the building plot is left to the garden, which consequently passes under the house. The same area is also gained on the flat roof.

2. The Roof Garden
The flat roof demands in the first place systematic utilization for domestic purposes: roof terrace, roof garden. On the other hand, the reinforced concrete demands protection against changing temperatures. Over activity on the part of the reinforced concrete is prevented by the maintenance of a constant humidity on the roof concrete. The roof terrace satisfies both demands (a rain- dampened layer of sand covered with concrete slabs with lawns in the interstices; the earth of the flowerbeds in direct contact with the layer of sand). In this way the rainwater will flow off extremely slowly. Waste pipes in the interior of the building. Thus a latent humidity will remain continually on the roof skin. The roof gardens will display highly luxuriant vegetation. Shrubs and even small trees up to 3 or 4 meters tall can be planted. For Le Corbusier, Roof Gardens were a way to reclaim the spaces lost in built-up areas of the cities.

3. Free design of the ground floor plan
The support system carries the intermediate ceilings and rises up to the roof. The interior walls may be placed wherever required, each floor being entirely independent of the rest. There are no longer any supporting walls but only membranes of any thickness required. The result of this is absolute freedom in designing the ground- plan; that is to say, free utilization of the available means, which makes it easy to offset the rather high cost of reinforced concrete construction.

4. Horizontal window, also known as the Ribbon window
Together with the intermediate ceilings the supports form rectangular openings in the façade through which light and air enter copiously. The window extends from support to support and thus becomes a horizontal window. Stilted vertical windows consequently disappear, as do unpleasant mullions. In this way, rooms are equably lit from wall to wall. Experiments have shown that a room thus lit has an eight times stronger illumination than the same room lit by vertical windows with the same window area. The whole history of architecture revolves exclusively around the wall apertures. Through use of the horizontal window reinforced concrete suddenly provides the possibility of maximum illumination.
5. Free design of the façade
By projecting the floor beyond the supporting pillars, like a balcony all round the building, the whole facade is extended beyond the supporting construction. It thereby loses its supportive quality and the windows may be extended to any length at will, without any direct relationship to the interior division. A window may just as well be 10 meters long for a dwelling house as 200 meters for a palatial building (our design for the League of Nations building in Geneva). The facade may thus be designed freely.
The Villa Savoy culminates Corbusier's early work. Villa Savoy is located in Poissy, France just outside of Paris. This house illustrates Corbusier's 'Five Points of Modern Architecture'. Unlike the confined urban locations of most of Le Corbusier's earlier houses, the openness of the Poissy site permitted a freestanding building and the full realization of his five-point program. Essentially the house comprises two contrasting, sharply defined, yet interpenetrating external aspects. The dominant element is the square single-storied box, a pure, sleek, geometric envelope lifted buoyantly above slender pilotis, its taut skin slit for narrow ribbon windows that run unbroken from corner to corner (but not over them, thus preserving the integrity of the sides of the square). The inner spaces flow dynamically around the supporting pilotis and blend with the exterior. The intersecting spatial areas are defined by flat white planes particularly at the diagonals. The house has an effect of a box hovering in the air, what with the whole structure being supported by slender steel columns called pilotis. The nonstructural walls merely define the space and keep out the weather. Large curving walls shelter the terrace and garden on the roof.


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