“Modern life demands, and is waiting for, a new kind of plan, both for the house and the city.” Many of the trends that dominate the world of architecture and interior design today are rooted in the design ideals first conceived by Le Corbusier. Born as Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris, Le Corbusier (1887 – 1965) spent five decades of his life planning visionary designs for buildings, recreational facilities and cities. He was born into family of considerable artistic legacy. His father Georges Edouard Jeanneret was a watch engraver and mother Marie Charlotte Amélie Jeanneret-Perret a talented musician. However, he chose to adopt his maternal grandfather’s name as his pseudonym.
Also an accomplished artist and writer, Le Corbusier’s design philosophy for residential buildings known as the Five Points of Architecture seems to be surprisingly simple for such a revolutionary plan. He stresses on five elements – free designing of the façade and ground plan, use of pilotis, horizontal window and roof garden – as essential aspects of a modern home.
In this article, we will try to understand each of these and will discuss how you may incorporate them in your dream home project. Besides, you will experience how modern architects are applying Le Corbusier’s principles in today’s homes with some alterations to suit the time we find ourselves in.
Le Corbusier freed the façade from the shackles of a building’s structural constraints. He also made façades more prominent than being a mere accessory to a building. One of his most popular creations, Villa Savoye (1928) in France epitomises this design principle. The pillars are seen thrust backwards and the façade aiming to engage everyone’s attention.
A free flowing interior that is so popular nowadays owes its origin to Le Corbusier. The architect considered the presence of walls to be a restraining factor. So he preferred having no supporting walls for his buildings. Natural light and air were allowed to move freely across the interior space.
Maison La Roche (1923 – 1925), that is now home to Fondation Le Corbusier, shows the effectiveness of this type of ground plan. Even a visionary like Le Corbusier may not have anticipated how liberating this idea would be for modern houses that are suffering from exceeding space crunch. Studio MK27 employed the same technique here to create an entertainment and dining space.
In the absence of supporting walls, pilotis were employed to provide structures the required solidity. These were nothing but reinforced concrete columns created to bear the load. They were present in buildings even before the famous architect’s time, but he made it a part of his new design aesthetic.
The High Court building (1955) of Chandigarh, a city planned by Le Corbusier, bears the application of this principle. In many ways these pillars of support give the building a chic but industrial look. Indeed, for Le Corbusier “a house” was “a machine for living in.”
The renowned architect and designer believed in large horizontal ribbon windows that cut through the entire length lighting up all the rooms equally on its way. Except for those already mentioned Haus Le Corbusier (1927) in Stuttgart, Palace of Justice (1952 – 1955) in Chandigarh and National Museum of Western Art in Tokyo (1957 – 1959) showcase Corbusier’s favourite horizontal windows.
He wrote comprehensive accounts on windows in his book Towards a New Architecture. He was anxious to reduce the costs of creating such elaborate openings as these. But he was determined to see that “windows serve to admit light… and to see outside.”
For Le Corbusier roof gardens were not only essential to augment the beauty of the structure or make it a so called ecologically conscious building, but to protect the concrete roof as well. Sod roofs for insulation is being used in the Nordic homes for ages. In other parts of the world, roof gardens are not uncommon either. So it is difficult to say what inspired the master planner to think it an essential part of modern homes.
Perhaps, the fast vanishing greenery across the urban vista alarmed him and he wanted to preserve a patch of green on the roof of the buildings. Whatever the source of such motivation, roof gardens started to become a permanent feature in many of the high rise buildings. It is also the easiest of all Le Corbusier principles to incorporate in an existing edifice without making much structural changes.
Le Corbusier’s name is almost synonymous with the purist colour palette. He was an enthusiastic artist and art lover himself and could not have avoided the influences of successive art movements of late 19th and early 20th century. L’art decorative d’aujourd’hui, published by Le Corbusier in 1925, reveals what came to be known as the Law of Ripolin. This suggested deluding the interior with a coat of white painting. For him white was a metaphor for purity, honesty and renewal.
He wrote, “The white of the whitewash is absolute, everything stands out from it and is recorded absolutely, black on white; it is honest and dependable.” He sufficiently modified this law to usher other colours of brighter hues at a later date. But this image of pure white space stuck in everyone’s mind and has hardly ever went out of fashion since then.
But, before committing yourself to any one type of architecture it will be better for you to read our tips to buy the best house for yourself.