Unfolding the City

Villa Savoye + Maison Carré

Posted in Uncategorized by Chris on Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

French Countryside

Last Wednesday our group headed out to Villa Savoye and the Maison Carré; I was very impressed. We ended up renting cars and heading out from Gare de l’Est. It was about a 30 minute drive to Villa Savoye, then another 45 minutes to the Maison Carré. Apparently the Maison had just opened from a huge renovation. We decided that the traffic would be too heavy heading back into the city, so we stopped at a small town. A couple of us had drinks; I thought it was a good time to try a macaron (delicious). We made it back late that night and although it was tiring, it was a really fun day.


I am relatively skeptical of Le Corbusier’s design methods. As such, I was skeptical upon approaching the house. I didn’t much like the way it looked in reality, even though it does look good in pictures. Upon entering the house, everything changed. It was very beautiful, and the absense of decoration synergized with the complexity of space.

Villa Savoye SideVilla Savoye Roof

I apologize about the size of the pictures, but I know there is a plethora of pictures in circulation of the Villa Savoye. It was really interesting actually going somewhere that you have seen in pictures so many times. I wasn’t starstuck per se, but I was definitely feeling like I was in the presence of a celebrity.


I actually knew of Alvar Aalto before Le Corbusier. In fact, this was one of the first houses I really enjoyed looking at. For me, visiting the Maison was the fulfillment of a fading memory. In a way, I like this house less than Savoye, because the focus on details is occasionally confusing. I found Savoye to lack things to hate; I’d compare this to pop music. Aalto definitely has portrayed different cultural influences well in the house – and it shows up through wood. If the wood were stripped off the house, it would be all white like Savoye. Seeing this “imperfection” is frustrating not only because wood is beautiful, but because it surely represented the owners taste. Part of me wants to strip it off, but in this case the decoration sets the house apart.

Maison Carre Front EntranceMaison Carre BootiesMaison Carre Living RoomMaison Carre Dining Room Lamps

On a side note, I love to take off my shoes when booties are provided for a tour. It kind of makes me feel more at home.

Anyway, I’ll be posting on the first week of classes at La Villette on Thursday. They have been going really well so far: I have quite a few stories to tell.


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