The Villa Savoye by Le Corbusier is a masterpiece, and therefore it is many things. One has spoken and great writing on her, and one will continue speaking and writing much more. As all the masterpieces, it is inexhaustible; because not only it is what is, but what each of us we want that it is.
I have so that to say, and even it slightly already it will be said more of once. But, anyway, I am going to say it. It is scarcely a marginal observation (as of custom) and maybe a bit simplistic (as of custom).
Le Corbusier has a very famous sketch in the one that simplifies four ways of designing or of conceiving a building. It is very clear, since always:
The first one is to design it as the building want to be; to leave it to grow and to demonstrate freely, organically. Every piece and every space are located as be convenient and they take the form that they need. (The example that it draws is his house La Roche/Jeanneret in Paris).
The second one is to do a massive, compact volume. (It has many buildings like that, though so tasteless none not so stubbornly massive. It might be, for example, the building of Manufactures Duval, in St. Dié, or Chandigarh’s Secretariat).
The third one is to do a very rigid and squared structure and to move freely inside her. (Conceptual it has many works like that, but none has the form of the sketch n º 3. Let’s put for example the Center of Visual Arts of Cambridge, in Harvard’s University, and the Conference hall of Strasbourg).
And the fourth one is the sum of all the previous ones: A disposition in plant that one organizes freely (see the striped zone), but that externally looks like a compact volume, a box, and that, with a regular structure, takes all the freedoms that it wants. (The obvious example of this one is the Villa Savoye).
Definitively, it is a gift inside a casing.
It is a clear, regular, massive box (a bit tasteless), but that hides something totally different. The box of gift (with lacito and everything: the curved walls of the solarium) it does not allow to guess what exists inside. The interior is a real surprise. It is just as when we open a gift. Inside the tasteless box of carton there is something marvellous.
And, in order that then they say that the Modern Movement was I go without Complexity and Contradiction, this house is completely contradictory.
After the apparent simplicity and homogeneity one hides a surprising space.
The apparent clump is percudido for hollows and emptinesses. Nothing has that to see what exists inside with what seemed from out:
The terrace has a sight to the horizon that remains framed by a few useless hollows in a false front which function is that of mask, her of cheating the one who sees the house from out.
Why has not free look been left to the opened space? By that she is restricted?
The first thing, for what we have said: In order that there is casing. But also, in certain way, the landscape places, one domesticates him, one makes him happen for the eye of the needle of the false windows in longueur. A racionalist function is exercised even on the nature, which is not left to enjoy directly, but it is necessary to annotate and checkered to be able to enjoy it.
On the other hand, to force that the plant of the house remains inscribed in this pseudosquare causes some inconveniences, some unnecessary burdens (especially when no limitation of space is had in the plot). There is a certain “heaping” of the rooms, a double traffic from the stairs and some hindrances in the opening door that they do not seem to be own of a house with so much site.
But over the functionality it counts the theorem, the autowell versed difficulty, the resolution of a problem that was not such, that the architect has invented for pure sadistic pleasure.
It is not the best plant of the world, but the house is magnificent. The complex and contradictory spaces that coexist and fight inside the box produce a great perceptive wealth and an enormous pleasure, both intellectual and sensual.
The ramp is a spatial and plastic finding, and the game between obligatory structure (so much amble as compositiva) and capricious elements it has a rare dynamic balance and an enormous wealth.
But, over everything, I think that the major finding of this house is that the emptinesses are more protagonists that the abundances. The house is accumulated and racks brains, but the terraces (covers and not covered), the exterior ramp, the solarium, etc, are the hollows that organize the space, the emptinesses that relate the volumes and give sense to the set.
In the sketch n º 4 have so much importance the white zones as the striped ones, or more.
The gift is always more important than the casing; the space it is more than the matter.
José Ramón Hernández Correa · PhD Architect
Toledo · january 2012
Author of the blog arquitectamoslocos?
Nací en 1960. Arquitecto por la ETSAM, 1985. Doctor Arquitecto por la Universidad Politécnica, 1992. Soy, en el buen sentido de la palabra, bueno. Ahora estoy algo cansado, pero sigo atento y curioso.