Villa Savoye: Plans, Structure & Analysis

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  • 0:02 What Is Villa Savoye?
  • 1:15 Structure of Villa Savoye
  • 2:08 Architect of Villa Savoye
  • 2:49 Stylistic Feature of…
  • 3:36 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Lauren Francis

Lauren has a master's degree in art history and has taught many college art courses.

This lesson will discuss a modern French work of architecture, the Villa Savoye. By looking at Le Corbusier's style and floor plans, the lesson will analyze the architect's aesthetic and the building's significance.

What Is Villa Savoye?

Is it a space ship hovering over the ground? Is it an office building? Is it a sterile science lab? In fact, Villa Savoye was a villa originally built as a home for a French family. Can you imagine living in a levitating house or lounging on a rooftop garden?

From 1928 to 1929, Le Corbusier designed and built a modern house in Poissy, France, overlooking the Seine River. Hovering above a grass plane, the home defines the architect's modern International Style. The International Style was an architectural movement popular in Europe and America during the 1920s and 1930s. Often made of steel, glass, and concrete, the sleek, rectangular buildings built in this style were stripped of excess ornamentation. International Style structures, like the Villa Savoye, were known for being simple, austere and often technologically advanced.

Villa Savoye was built for the Savoye family, who had made their fortune in the insurance business. Le Corbusier was tasked with creating a space for weekend retreats and parties. Just thirty miles from Paris, the home provided an ideal escape from the bustling city.

Structure of Villa Savoye

On the ground level, Le Corbusier featured a three-car garage and a driveway with a turning radius to accommodate a 1930s limousine. While garages are now commonplace in homes today, at the time, Le Corbusier's focus on the automobile was shockingly new. From the outset, the house's design embraced machines and technology, just as it exuded a starkly modern style.

In fact, the house proved to be uncomfortable and unaccommodating for the Savoye family. They abandoned it within a few years of its completion. By the time World War II occurred, the house became a boarding space, first for the occupying Germans and later the Allies. Following the war, it was nearly torn down many times, but eventually saved and declared a national monument. In 1996, the home was restored to its original condition and made into a museum.

Architect of Villa Savoye

Also know as Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, Le Corbusier was a Swiss-born architect, city planner, and theoretical writer who championed the International Style. With much of his career spent in France, Le Corbusier designed everything from churches to apartment buildings to private homes like the Villa Savoye.

Above all, Le Corbusier admired an aesthetic that was functional and free of ornaments. He wanted his buildings to reflect their purpose and display the simple beauty of the industrial materials he favored. One of his favorite and commonly implemented materials became rough-cast concrete, which included bits of pebbles and sand in the concrete to add texture and pattern.

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