When Le Corbusier ideates the Villa Savoye as a “Machine a habiter”; a physical representation of the Five Principles of a New Architecture, he was inadvertently seeding a generation of architects with a thought experiment turn typological catalog.
Because the de-compartmentalized combination of open floors, pillars, and free facade pushes the responsibility of the program from the architect to the user and, by doing so, exacerbates the proliferation of unused or otherwise unallocated space. When blindly applied, the proportions of spaces do not necessarily correspond to the portion of activities, hence open spaces, while luxurious become inefficient. If the house is, as intended, a Machine to live in it is, therefore, running at a loss.
The Villa Savoye is oversize not by today’s standards but by Hong Kong standards, by London, and New York and Paris standards. In these places as they exist today, a building like this moves from luxury to debauchery.
This is not an indictment of Le Corbusier, if anything, he was consequential with his manifesto. The problem I pose is of the revision of history, not the reading of history. By interpreting it as canon, we as architects have turned a metaphor into a prescription.
As a way to bring forth evidence of this contradiction, in this project, I explore the Villa Savoye not as a concept to be construed but as the source matter that it is, as brick and mortar and tiles and steel and enclosures; and by doing so, try to juxtapose it with the spatial reality of some of the most saturated living environment of our time.
If we could slice this landmark using Occam’s razor and see it just as raw material, repurposed and re-distribute. We could turn a machine for live in, into a space for live in.