Le Corbusier's Villa Savoye in LEGO

Architecture student Matija Grguric's brilliant recreation of Le Corbusier's Villa Savoye is an obvious candidate for LEGO when you think about it. Le Corbusier's square-edged design of the concrete home — completed in 1929, if you can believe it — lends itself perfectly to blocks, being modular itself. This is the first I've heard of Le Corbusier and "International Style". I can imagine it was a fairly mind-blowing architectural notion at the time, even if the house looks like an office park on stilts today. Project Page [MOCPages.com via Bros. Brick]
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8 Responses to Le Corbusier's Villa Savoye in LEGO

  1. Santos says:

    The original looks like it is made of legos. This makes me smile.

  2. JJR1971 says:

    James Howard Kunstler zestfully rakes Le Corbusier over the coals in GEOGRAPHY OF NOWHERE and HOME FROM NOWHERE. Thank goodness no one in Europe took him seriously. Unfortunately, we Americans embraced this nut full on, and he played right into the growing post-war American cult of the car…

    I read somewhere in a “Green” architecture book that near the end of his life Le Corbusier admitted he had been wrong and affirmed the need for a more humanistic architecture. That took guts, if true.

  3. ntac says:

    I’ve had the pleasure of staying in this apartment building many years ago http://www.galinsky.com/buildings/marseille/. I agree that his ideas on city planning did not work in practice. This building was meant to be part of a planned community and from the outside it’s a bit shabby and oppressive. However, the man was brilliant at designing a space that was pleasant to live in. Lot’s of light, lot’s of space. And an ingenious use of space in which the apartments on either side of the building slotted against each other so that everyone got a double height living room.

    A machine for living.

  4. Taylor says:

    Before I start complaining about le Corbusier, let me say that the Lego version of the Villa Savoye looks great. That said, let me say a little bit about some of le Corbusier’s work.

    Although he sometimes built decent buildings, Le Corbusier is one of my least favorite architects, in large part because of his disdain for the people using the spaces he created. I’ll leave it to others to argue the attractiveness of working in “raw concrete”–le Corbusier’s self-proclaimed favorite building material–and instead point out his disregard for some of his clients.

    The first example to come to mind is the Villa Savoye itself, which I discovered in Alain de Botton’s “The Architecture of Happiness.” (I just found the chapter posted online here. It’s a cool book.) A house of right angles, naked bulbs, and bare pipes, the Villa Savoye was designed to make an architect’s statement about his vision of the future, not to comfortably house a family. Unfortunately, the roof leaked so much that the son got pneumonia and had to spend a year recuperating in a sanatorium. De Botton recounts how le Corbusier, when told that the flat roof (which the family had objected to from the start) was leaking on a phenomenal scale, responded that the flat roof design had been well-received in the architectural community and that the family should get a guestbook to collect the autographs of all the famous people who would be coming by to see it.

    On the written page, Le Corbusier is almost farcical. I laughed out loud when reading about le Corbusier’s reaction of “injured alarm” to Madame Savoye’s intention to put a chair and two sofas in the living room. In le Corbusier’s words, provided by de Botton–“Home life today is being paralysed by the deplorable notion that we must have furniture. This notion should be rooted out and replaced by that of equipment.” For more about the Villa Savoye fiasco, check out the link above.

    Without going into too much detail, here is another le Corbusier idea: demolish central Paris replace it with sixty-story identical concrete towers set between freeways.

    As an example that’s not too bad but is close to home, there’s the Carpenter Center at Harvard, the only one of the man’s buildings that I have spent much time in. I don’t think the building looks too bad, but like the Villa Savoye, it has a flat roof, and while flat roofs may be good for places that don’t get much precipitation, in Cambridge, MA, they lead to lots of leaks. Since the Carpenter Center’s completion in 1962, the roof has been a perpetual problem. If only le Corbusier had learned that lesson in the thirty years since Madame Savoye’s complaint. (In contrast, Sever Hall across the street was finished in 1880, but the sloped roof has never had any problems.)

    I will admit that some of his ideas are appealing. Open floor plans, allowing design without worrying about supporting walls, and greenery added to compensate for the area used by the building aren’t bad. On the other hand, freedom in placing walls is a small point if you don’t design for the people using the space, and le Corbusier’s use of the organic has been described by Lewis Mumford as a “sterile hybrid” of skyscraper and environment. While le Corbusier may be a famous architect, I think widespread application of his ideas would probably make him a much more despised architect.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Le Corbusier’s modernist theories were in large part responsible for the poor urban housing projects that were created in the 1960’s.

    Artist Michael Rakowitz (not me) has dealt with the consequences of such abstract theory put to light.

  6. Taylor says:

    The link about the Villa Savoye from The Architecture of Happiness didn’t seem to work. Here it is again: http://calitreview.com/48

  7. historyman68 says:

    Awesome! I’m sending this to my Architecture professor!

  8. Andreas says:

    I’ve had a glance at Le Corbusier’s work, and it seems a lot of his ingenuity is found on the inside as well, with efficient use of daylight and so on. It’s something I didn’t get to see when I was in Paris and someone had overlooked the fact that tours were by appointment only when we visited his Villa la Roche-Jeanneret…

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