Second semester of second year studio has initiated with an highly impressive sketch problem titled “what if,…” Here is the one that fall to my share:
LeCorbusier’s Villa Savoye was made of load bearing walls but no post&lintel”
Initially I aimed to understand the principles of the design approach and qualities of the building. Both post and lintel are actually the main structural elements of Villa Savoye and totally related with the architects approach. Villa Savoye was designed to be a summer house in relation with the surrounding nature -extroverted- . The first level was lifted above the ground level to sustain a continuous, uninterrupted space.This quality was more or less sustained on the second floor with horizontal windows wrapping all four sides, leading to a continuous view of what is behind.
How could this quality be ensured or what would change when load bearing walls become the matter? What comes to my mind when I think of load bearing wall and another designs of Le Corbusier are Unite d’Habitat and Notre Dame du Haut. I know that in both he made use of columns to carry the structural weight but they seem relatively more suitable to be converted to a load bearing wall structure, than Villa Savoye. So I produced some variations of Villa Savoye in my mind with load bearing walls. One is like that of Unite d’Habitat. Making use of some units (or blocks) but it would allow only one way of this “uninterrupted, continuous space” quality. One another is making it a lot more enclosed and introverted by using smaller openings that load bearing walls would allow, yet this would change the whole design strategy of the building.
Another thing about Villa Savoye’s design was the spaces were large in scale. What is limited with load bearing walls is the scale of a space. There are some limits in dimension that you cannot exceed but columns allowed Le Corbusier to obtain large spaces with no interruption, a more free plan occurred that he can freely play and create integrated forms.
This also allowed the use of transparency within the building. Villa Savoye is also very transparent inside as much as at the facade. Here in this point lighting issue becomes the matter. Possibilities of post & lintels allowed light reflections behind the high lightning. With the use of load bearing walls the areas where the light comes in would be smaller but it could let him to play with shade and shadows that would give the building a very different characteristic and a different facade like that of Notre Dame du Haut or Santa Maria Church by Alvaro Siza.
One final observation of mine is that, the issue of transparency which would be restricted with the use of load bearing walls may also effect the user profile. A house like Villa Savoye with no privacy and with spaces almost completely open to eyes from any other space inside, would not be a good choice for more than one family to live. However the restriction in transparency could make Villa Savoye a more introverted within the building that could lead to an opposite user profile; more people living together.