Lego (again) and reflecting on the design of Le Corbusier

Lego (again) and reflecting on the design of Le Corbusier


To get me in the mood for returning to the studio today, the final day of the holidays was spent with Lego’s model of Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye, from their Architecture range.  Another wonderful gift from an inspired wife!

At the risk of turning this into a Lego blog (see also the Architecture Studio), well, I couldn’t resist sharing a few shots of it coming together.  And the intricacy and detail of the Lego model is such that a real appreciation for the building comes from working through its construction.  The external proportions are just right, the foundations and internal layout are all there (even though much of it is hidden when the model is complete), and even the different styles of windows are neatly represented by different types of clear blocks.

I’ve never had the chance to visit Villa Savoye (although I intend to at some point) but I’ll never forget a visit many years ago to another of the private houses Le Corbusier designed in the 1920s with his cousin Pierre Jeanneret: Villa La Roche, in a western suburb of Paris.  It wasn’t just the clean and minimal modernist architectural treatment that stoked my nascent interest in interior design, but that the experience of the building wasn’t all about the individual interior spaces in isolation.  So much of this building felt like it was about the transitions between spaces, and journeys within the building.  The layout of the rooms appeared quite simple at first – perhaps due to the architectural style – but in fact it was quite intricate, and rather ingenious.

[My visit was before the time of digital photography and I have no idea where the many pictures I took are now, so I’ve reproduced some images below from the Fondation Le Corbusier to give you a taste of the design.  All of the images of Villa La Roche here are Copyright Fondation Le Corbusier and the ADAGP (Société des auteurs dans les arts graphiques et plastiques).]

Moving through the hallway at first floor level, between the two main wings of the building, is a dramatic experience, with views to the front through full height glass windows, and a view down over the entrance below on the other side:

maison la roche landing

Landings on the second floor have a view over the entrance too, and the top of the stair from the ground floor also finishes with an opportunity to look over this space:

maison la roche hallway

The highlight though is undoubtedly the curved ramp along the side of the double-storey gallery space:

maison la roche ramp

The original owner was a keen art collector, and the ramp must have provided a way of enjoying the artworks from different perspectives, as well as an alternative way of reaching the first floor.  Using the ramp – whether ascending or descending – is an unexpectedly natural experience, and far more of a pleasure than using the stairs.  When filled with artwork this room must’ve been stunning:

maison la roche gallery

Back to the Lego… and below you can share the joy in the scale model of Villa Savoye:

le corbusier lego design model 1

The accompanying booklet shows many images of and views within the actual building, and it’s delightful to see how these are reproduced with plastic bricks.  Here the paving is underway – slab by slab.  A meticulous process to get all the bricks nicely lined up!

le corbusier lego design model 2

The finished model bears an uncanny likeness to the actual building:

le corbusier lego design model 3

Looking down into the roof terrace, all of the details of the building are there: the paved terrace I spent hours on earlier, the planted beds on the terrace and above, the full height glass to the salon, and ramps again, this time up to the top level of the roof:

le corbusier lego design model 4

And finally a shot of the approach to the entrance, which I look forward to enjoying at the real building some time in the future.

le corbusier lego design model 5



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