The Villa Savoye is considered by many to be the seminal work of the Swiss architect Le Corbusier. Situated at Poissy, outside of Paris, it is an iconic architectural example of early modernism, the so-called International Style. Construction was completed circa 1929 but fell into disrepair during World War II. It has since been fully restored and is open for viewing.
The house addressed "The Five Points", his basic tenets of a new aesthetic of architecture:
This house in many ways defined the course that modern architecture was to take in the 20th Century. An early and classic exemplar of the "International Style", in which the mass of the building hovers above a grass plane on thin concrete pilotti, with strip windows, and a flat roof with a deck area, ramp, and a few contained touches of curvaceous walls.
The last in a series of white houses designed by architect Le Corbusier, Villa Savoye was designed as a weekend country house for the wealthy Savoye family and is situated just outside of the small village of Poissy in a meadow surrounded by mature trees. The intention was to cause as little disturbance as possible to the existing natural surroundings. Le Corbusier put a lot of consideration into how people were to experience the house. The approach and initial experiences were of great importance, arriving by vehicle at the site would be integrated into the experience of the house. The house would appear majestically from behind a screen of thick trees, thus maximising the impact.
The Savoyes lived in the house until 1940. During the Second World War the house was occupied first by Germans and then Allies, and seriously damaged. It came into possession of the town of Poissy in 1958, which used it as a youth centre and then considered demolishing it. However, after the protest of architects who felt it should be saved, and with support from Le Corbusier, the house was protected. In 1965 it became listed as a historic monument, and from 1985 through 1997 complete restoration work was undertaken. The restoration has included structural and surface repairs to the facades and terraces, rewiring, and installation of security cameras and lights. The original colours and fixtures and fittings reinstated where possible. The polychromatic interior was intended to create contrast with the primarily white exterior.
The design of the house goes against the traditional codes of residential architecture, instead it is a representation of a new vision in the form of functional architecture. Vertical circulation is facilitated by ramps as well as stairs and the geometry of the house is designed to ensure that as people move through the spaces they experience the harmony between the architectural forms and the play of light.
ARCHITECT: LE CORBUSIER