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Villa Savoye – 5 Important Design Principles and Features

Despite history’s impressive buildings, you cannot ignore this simple villa in Poissy, France. Constructed in 1929, Villa Savoye by the modernist Le Corbusier is an ultimate trendsetter in modern architecture. It resonates with his five ideologies of architecture and regulates the foundation for the current design trends.

Villa Savoye
Image source: khanacademy.org 
  • Building Name: Villa Savoye
  • Location : Poissy, France
  • Architect : Le Corbusier
  • Building Type: Residence
  • Primary Building Material: Concrete and Masonry Units

Can you imagine being the trendsetter in your business? Well, Le Corbusier can be your example!

Breaking all the design ideologies, Le Corbusier developed an architectural style that involved simplicity and geometrics. Being the first generation from the International school of architecture, he evolved designs that regulated precise geometric forms and functionality. A discipline that avoids ornaments, plastering, and paints, and allows just the plain concrete and steel facades– the evolution of modern architecture thus began!

Le Corbusier’s Design Approach – Villa Savoye

He adopted strong principles to define the residential architecture and urban planning. His belief in designing rectilinear forms with open interiors laid the foundation for his five main design principles. 

  1. Use pilotis to lift the buildings- Using columns to elevate the building from the ground level. 
  2. Free floor plans- Designs devoid of structural load-bearing walls allow floor layout flexibility. 
  3. Free facades- The façade of the building will be separate from the building’s structural components.
  4. Ribbon windows- Horizontal window that runs along the entire length of the façade to improvise lighting
  5. The roof garden- The buildings should revert the built-up space it uses back to nature by incorporating gardens in their terraces. 
Villa Savoye
Image source: https://whereisthenorth.com/le-corbusier-architects-perspective-series/ 

The Villa Savoye is an excellent representative that depicts Le Corbusier’s all five principles of architecture in reality. The villa is a remarkable pioneer of modern architecture and a famous model for International styles. Keep reading as we explore more about this building in detail below.

Features of Villa Savoye

Now that you know Le Corbusier’s design principles, we suggest familiarizing yourself with a design sanctuary that elaborates on all these five principles. Thanks to the owners of Villa Savoye for their minimal restrictions. It allowed Corbusier to envision a residence that empowers the essence of all his principles. 

The main feature of this villa includes

  • The building had pilotis to lift it from the ground and appear weightless.
  • He recessed the ground floor and painted it green to merge them with the landscape.
  • The building is a concrete structure with a plain façade; this challenged the tradition of ornaments and plastering and established its trend. 
  • The contrast of ribbon windows on the plain white facades is stark to the fluidity of the interior circulation through ramps.
  • The contrast between the sharp edge of the building with its curved ramps creates a spatial dynamism within the building.

Design and Planning of Villa Savoye

Le Corbusier envisioned buildings as floating spaces, free from the ground. He lifted the building from its ground using slender concrete pillars, and pilotis to justify his ideologies. The ground level of the building is minimal and has a square base; however, the plan expands into a rectangular layout as we move to the upper floor. 

Villa Savoye
Image source:  https://www.archdaily.com

The lower level of the residence is allocated for services and maintenance. One of the exciting features you might find is its curved wall for better vehicular access. Perceiving ‘houses as machines to live in,’ he incorporated a driveway below the building. The curvature in the ground level aligns with the turning radius of the automobiles in the 1920s– a futuristic vision back then—in living areas on the first floor.

Villa Savoye
Image source: archdaily.com

The living spaces are located on the upper floor with well-lit interiors from the ribbon windows. The building also spatially orients the public and private rooms separately, yet, the transition is seamless with glass walls and free floor plans. 

View of the ramp and spiral staircase; Image source: Khanacademy.org

The spiral staircase merges with the fluidity of the space and formally circulates you through the building, from its ground to it roof garden. The headroom of the staircase contributes to the cylindrical structure on the roof that contrasts the plain rectangular façade of the building. 

Villa Savoye
Image source: archdaily.com

He informally combines the living area on the first floor with its outer terrace and uses a ramp to connect the patio with the building informally. The free floor plan creates connectivity within the indoor and outdoor spaces using large glass walls. With the modern age being very machine-like, Corbusier prioritizes the quality of time spent outdoors in the fresh air as a driving tool for better health and living. 

Materials and Construction

Villa Savoye
Image source: archeyes.com

If you have to associate one material with modern architecture, then concrete can be your first choice! Concrete’s flexibility, strength, and dynamics match none of its conventional materials like brick and stone

Le Corbusier understood the potential of reinforced concrete and adapted it in the pilotis of this incredible Villa Savoye. Even though the material was beginning to gain popularity in the 1920s for its stability, Corbusier chose it for its capacity to withstand wide walls from collapsing. The duo of masonry units and reinforced concrete gave structural strength to the building and supported its long horizontal windows. 


With all the advancements in architecture, it’s inevitable to ignore the contribution of Corbusier. The philosophies implemented in Villa Savoye by the modernist Le Corbusier were the foundation for the contemporary architectural styles we experience today. He envisioned spatial dynamics as a holistic tool to suit the needs of modern lifestyles. Empowering the interplay of spaces between outdoors and indoors optimizes these dynamics and upgrades the quality of our lifestyles.

Villa Savaoye pioneered modern architecture, inspiring architects and aspirants to admire and imitate these philosophies. Despite its repair over years of usage and climate exposure, the global architectural communities still celebrate the building. 

It also owns the privilege of being recognized as the first historical monument while the architect was still alive. In 2016, UNESCO acknowledged Villa Savoye and other Le Corbusier works as World Heritage Sites. 

By Hajara Banu

Hajara Banu is a professional architect, content writer, and strategist. She is on her journey to share her love of architecture, design, and content creation. Besides writing, Hajara loves coffee and often experiments with cooking and organizing in her free time.

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