Serianne Worden (USA):
The most well-known piece of modern architecture in Argentina is Casa Curutchet in La Plata, about one hour south-east of Buenos Aires. Commissioned by an innovative surgeon, Pedro Curutchet, this is the only residential building erected in the Americas by Le Corbusier; however he never visited the site or met the client. The program included the house and medical practice, with all rooms open to the street taking into account the vistas of nearby parks.
Upon approach, the façade appears as a series of shifting planes, differentiating functions and separating space. Once passing through the framed entry on the open ground floor, the visitor is met with a large vertical open space containing a sweeping ramp. The ramp connects the ground floor to the rear living quarters at the mid-way landing, and then switches back to the medical quarters located at the front of the site. Further defining a visual separation, Le Corbusier stipulated the planting of a poplar tree, now mature, within this void between clinic and house.
The medical practice, supported on pilotis with brise-soleils, bridges the full width of the site. The clinic contains three clearly defined spaces; waiting room, examining room and maid's room. Essentially housed in a cube to the rear of the site, the living quarters contain a kitchen, dining room and double height living room with glazing towards the park, further bringing nature inside. The differentiation of space in the residential areas was to be defined by the placement of furniture and slab projections according to Corbusier's free plan. Three bedrooms and two bathrooms are on the upper floor, the master bedroom overlooking the double-height living room through wood levers.
The drama of the house, its play between solid and void and concrete and nature is a wonderful example of the principles of Modernism, incorporating pilotis, ribbon windows, roof gardens, a free ground plan and free facades.
Now home to CAPBRA, Colegio de Arquitectos de la Provincia de la Buenos Aires, the house is open to the public.
Date posted: March 2011 Els Slots (The Netherlands):
The Casa Curutchet (1953) is located in the 'planned' city of La Plata, about an hour north of Buenos Aires. It's one of the works of Le Corbusier that probably will be admitted to the World Heritage List in 2009. I went there on a Monday morning, after having found out that the interior only is open limited hours during weekdays. What I hadn't thought about is that the Americas 'celebrate' Columbus Day on this exact day. I feared the worst, and that proved true when I arrived at the house and nobody answered the bell.
So I've got nothing to tell about the interior then. Fortunately, some of Le Corbusier's principles can be assessed from the outside too. It really is a small house, looking to make the most of its tiny plot between more sturdy neighbours. The front side harbours the medical practice for Dr. Curutchet, who commissioned the building. It has distinctive columns bearing the load, lots of open spaces and large, tall windows.
The family house is at the back, but I couldn't get more than a glimpse of that. What is visible, is the tree in the inner courtyard that was planted when the building was constructed. It now is a large tree that separates the private quarters from the working area.
Date posted: October 2008
Have you been to Casa Curutchet? Share your experiences!