Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye

A view of the south-facing facade of Villa Savoye in Poissy, France.

During the 1920s, Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret built a series of villas that contributed to the development of their architectural vocabulary, which notably resulted in the famous “five points of new architecture” formulated in 1927: piles, a rooftop garden, an open plan, horizontal windows and a free façade.” Villa Savoye was the last in this series and became a symbol of modern architecture.

I had the great fortune of visiting Villa Savoye this past winter. Located 30 minutes outside of Paris in the suburb of Poissy, Villa Savoye was commissioned by Pierre and Emilie Savoye for use as a weekend home. Construction began in 1928 and took about three years to complete. By 1940, and the beginning of World War II, the Savoye family left the home, which would be twice occupied during the War: first by the Germans, then by the Americans, ultimately suffering extensive damage.

After the town of Poissy purchased the property in 1958, the Le Corbusier Lycée was built on the property, dramatically decreasing the land surrounding the home and undermining the architect’s intention that the house “stand in the midst of the fields like an object, without disturbing anything around it.” C’est la vie!

The pure white facade stands in stark contrast to the surrounding green meadow.
One of the “five points,” horizontal windows in the Living Room allow ample air circulation and light. At the time of my visit, Villa Savoye was furnished by Tolix, which introduced Les Couleurs® Le Corbusier Collection in 2014 as a celebration of the polychrome practicing architect.
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The spiral staircase mimics the curvature of the walls bookending the Solarium, which are based on the Golden Ratio.
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Curved on a 45 degree angle to complement the turning radius of a car, the green wall retracts to reveal a garage, which could accommodate up to three vehicles.

In 1965 Villa Savoye became the first modernist building to be added to the French register of national monuments, and also the first to be added during the lifetime of its designer. Renovations on the property continued for the next 30 or so years and were completed in 1997. Villa Savoye is open to the public and definitely worth the visit.