|2011||Deferred||To develop "a common notion of Outstanding Universal Value of the site"|
|2006||Tentative list||Submitted as tentative site by State Party|Ian Cade (England):
When looking at this proposal I said I would only count it once I had visited one of the four major works of le Corbusier, for me these were: Villa Savoye in Poissy-sur-Seine, Unite d'Habitation in Marseille, Chappelle Notre Dame du Haute in Ronchamp (all in France) and the Government Buildings in Chandigarh (India). I finally got to visit one in early 2011 when I made the short hop out from central Paris to the Vila Savoye.
The Villa is one of the most iconic pieces of modernist architecture, and to my eye it is exceedingly beautiful. I was a little worried that visiting may not live up to my high estimation as it is very hard for something that looks so measured and perfect to actually seem so when you poke around. However I am happy to report that it seems to be in a pretty good state of repair, especially in comparison to other modernist sites I have visited such as the Tugendhat Villa.
The Villa Savoye is regarded as one of the master works of modernist architecture, especially because it demonstrates the 5 principles which le Corbusier laid out in his seminal work Vers une architecture, these are:
Pilotis, supporting columns which elevate the bulk of the building allowing a smooth transition from garden to building.
Roof Garden, which again help to marry the internal and external spaces, I really enjoyed this mixture during my visit, the ramp that runs the whole way through the house does an excellent job of linking the inside and outside.
Free Plan, the use of reinforced concrete and pilotis means that internal walls are not needed to support the building so it can be open plan; this has had a massive impact on architecture of all forms since its introduction.
Horizontal Windows, again the fact that walls do not support the whole building mean that these vast horizontal stripes of windows can be installed, here they really are a bold sculptural part of the building and allow large amounts of light into the interior.
Free Fašade, the walls of the building are now essentially just a skin freeing it up to be used in a much more playful way.
For some this may just seem like a bit of an academic game, but these ideas really did bring about huge changes in architecture and nowhere demonstrates them quite as well as the Villa Savoye. I really loved the incredible lightness of the building, both in terms of the bright light that penetrated all corners of the house and the fact that the structure looked dainty despite being 3 stories high. This allowed the space to be opened up and the internal and external features to mix easily.
The Villa is located in Poissy a short journey out from Paris on the RER, from the station there is a twice hourly bus that runs to the Villa or it would be about a 25 minute walk. It is closed on Mondays but it is covered by the Paris Museum pass, there is a useful leaflet in a few languages which has a good little tour so be sure to pick that up, or you can look at the good architectural over view on the always great Galinsky website.
Le Corbusier is arguably the most important architect of the 20th century, but I must admit he was always someone whose works I had admired rather than loved, however my visit to the Villa Savoye really could not have been better. This global nomination of his major works really will bring a treasure to the World Heritage list which will hopefully be joined by the equally influential Frank Lloyd Wright Buildings in the near future.
[Site 9: Experience 7]
Date posted: May 2011
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