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'Petite maison' Le Corbusier
This is the little house that Le Corbusier built in 1923-1924 in the shores of Lake Geneva, Switzerland. The house was built in terms of Le Corbusier and his cousin Pierre Jeanerette. The program and plan of the house were developed. The paper will discuss the design of the house and what motivated it.
Le Corbusier designed a modest vacation house for his parents just before his father died and where his mother lived till her death in 1960 at the age of 101 years. His brother Albert Jeanneret continued to live in the house until 1973. This is one of the smallest and simplest white villas that Le Corbusier designed with a limited budget. Many photographs of the house exist of family gatherings in the garden.
After several months of research on where to put the structure, Le Corbusier finally found the perfect field; a narrow strip of land that bordered the Corseaux Lake. When completed, the building became the first example of a modern architecture by Le Corbusier and came to be known as the villa ‘Le Lac’ meaning the most humble of white city. The building can still be seen today and it shows a true test of architecture. This is because the building is seen to have brought together some ‘new five points of architecture’: the window strip, the free plan and the roof garden. The architectural design of the house like custom furnishings and personal artifacts can also be seen. These five points are:
- The pile- this is transformed into an open space which is designed for traffic
- The roof terrace- to make both the cessation traditional sloping roof and the roof terrace to serve as roof garden and a sports field.
- The free plan- includes the removal of walls and partition walls that bear structures allowed by a reinforced concrete space.
- The window- the length of the window which is made possible by the pole-slab structures that remove the lintels constraint.
- The front free- which posts back facades and floor door overhang.
The landscaping is also an architectural design with its high walls ending the garden 10ft square whose main purpose is to limit the view of the outer space. Here, clearly the garden is a green room and an interior. The wall in the south is pierced by an opening the window strip’s piercing which opens to fit the landscape- this becomes kind of a natural painting.
The le petit Maison villa Le Lac is a small house measuring 16m by 4m simple white parallelogram with one floor that consists of a living room, a bedroom, a small salon, powder room, a bathroom, a kitchen and a closet for clothes. When a new road was built in front of the facility, a front exterior wall was later added. An elevated guest room which is accessible by the courtyard stairs has a magnificent view of the lake over the roof. For technical reasons, a coating of galvanized panels was added to the façade. Due to other structural problems caused by the lake and cheap construction materials that were used for construction, Le Corbusier had to coat the outside of the building with aluminum in the 1950s. The south wall was also covered in aluminum because of cracks due to hydrostatic movement beneath the basement in a restoration in 1945. Le Corbusier had hoped that politically minded industrialists in France would lead the way and organize designs like the case in America.
The house played a role in the “controversy of the window” waged between Le Corbusier and Auguste Peret in Parisian journals of 1923. The controversy was that Le Corbusier asserted that the major positive consequence of Dom-ino concrete frame construction was a strip window. Le Corbusier had the ideas that the window would continuously and effectively distribute light within an interior where light was most needed, at least at an eye level. Le Corbusier presented the window as an inevitable and scientific response to the first ‘given’, its zenithal path, the sun and to the horizontal eye. This resulted to an 11 meter long window slash in the wall window facing south bearing no relationship to the division rooms. But Auguste Perret who is considered the father of concrete construction and Le Corbusier mentor dismissed the idea of a strip window as only being decorative and contrary to its use. Perret considered the horizontal window as destroying the definition of interior space because it eliminated threshold and eclipsed the experience of exterior space. The window strip is 11m and allows the sun to enter freely in the house’s main rooms offering a viewer magnificent scenery of the Alps, the Rhone Valley and the lake. The long and flexible space at the east end of the house serves as a guest room with movable partitions and wall beds.
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Driven partly by a tight budget, the structural and material system allowed for both the window and dwelling machine according to the Dom-ino version with a homely translation that supports metal pipe columns filled with cement. The roof also had concrete made by the lost tiles in the process; walls are hollow concrete plastered block. The sitting room is one of the shock designs of the house. A masonry wall wraps the site along the edge of the road and the lake creating an outdoor room that mediates between the house and the landscape. Le Corbusier drew the promenade that culminates in the distant view of the lake through which the window and the foreground sets the dining table and the pottery vessel. The last room of the house is painted dark and lit from above as a caesura from view and the garden scene.
Le Corbusier stance towards nature cannot be mistaken. He relied heavily on symbolism and geometry to evoke nature in the villa’s construction. For example light is used symbolically for dramatic purposes at the same time le Corbusier is seen to try and control his tight budget thus organizing it into a fixed pattern.
Le Corbusier addressed the problem of dwelling in a deep and real reason and thus he set out to counter the horrors of the industrial city. He attempted to create an architecture which could act as a reminder to generations of people. This he did when in 1924 he built his parents little house 1924 in the shores of Lake Geneva, Switzerland. He researched for some several months and finally found the perfect field for the structure that encompassed 3 of his five points of modern architecture (free plan, window plan and rooftop). The villa was finished and complimented be a green area with enclosed garden which is walled on its three sides. The garden has a high fence to limit the view of the landscape but a counterpoint to the house open a prism of 11 meters to accommodate light from the southern parts of the area. The villa was built under a tight budget plan. The villa was the first building in modern building to have the use of a long horizontal window running from the sitting room to the semi-open-plan bedroom. The window is mainly used to enjoy the view of the lake. The house is an earlier design of modern architecture which has inspired many people.