Villa Savoye

by tiresomemoi

Street viewStreet view

The gardener’s houseThe gardener's house

My architect friend, S, wanted to visit the Villa Savoye (les Heures Claires) in Poissy. Always ready for a little adventure I said I’d happily accompany her. My phone said it should take 18 steps and 27 minutes for us to get there. 2 hours, many missed exits and u-turns later we arrived.

Villa Savoye

PilotisPilotis

The disappearing ground floorThe disappearing ground floor

The hanging garden from belowThe hanging garden from below

SideviewAlmost there

MoonriseMoonrise

Floating houseFloating house

Villa Savoye* is an ode to obsession, arrogance, and vision. The surfaces have not aged well but the building retains the shock and not of this timeness the original owners must have felt. This is a house meant to prove a point not necessarily to be lived in.

Ground floor sinkGround floor sink

MapMap

The central feature of the house is a ramp** running from the ground floor to the roof. Beside the ramp is a spiral staircase. The ramp allows a smooth, even flow from floor to floor, the stairs a speeder but no less elegant ascent.

The rampThe ramp from the 1st floor

Staircase detail
Staircase 1

Light and heatLight and heat

There’s a satisfying mix of the hyper modern and the quaint.

The bathroom fixtures remind you of when the house was built. They are curvy and the porcelain has yellowed. Oddly, there are no mirrors.

The bedrooms are forcefully not grand, even a little cramped.

Guest bathGuest bath

Master bath skylightBathroom skylight

Bidet, master bathBidet

Sink, master bathSink, master bath

TubMaster bath

The kitchen is low and tight with lots of light, numerous workstations with various surface and lots and lots of storage. It’s silver and white, hospitallike. The counters are low. Low for the clients? Because Le Corbusier was short?

Kitchen sinkKitchen sink

According to Le Corbusier a house should provide:

1. A shelter against heat, cold, rain, thieves and the inquisitive.

The boudoirThe boudoir

SpineSpine

FittingsFittings

2. A receptacle for light and sun.

Roof as sculpture
The roof deck

Framing the skyFraming the sky

Hanging garden from aboveHanging garden from above

Table, hanging gardenTable, hanging garden

Staircase and rampStaircase and ramp

Light and shadowLight and shadow

3. A certain number of cells appropriated to cooking, work, and personal life.

Attention to detail (living room)Attention to details

Overcast blue (dining room)Overcast blue

*Villa Savoye, built between 1928 and 1931, was designed by the Swiss architect Le Corbusier (Charles Edouard Jeanneret) for Pierre and Emilie Savoye. I wasn’t able to find much about the Savoye’s other than that they were rich (M. Savoye sold insurance) and Jewish and had a son named Roger. Their history seems to have been eclipsed by the history of their house. A house they never really lived in. Any suggestions for where I might find out more about the Savoyes?

In a 1936 letter to Le Corbusier Emilie Savoye wrote, “It’s raining in the hall, it’s raining on the ramp, and the wall of the garage is absolutely soaked. What’s more, it’s still raining in my bathroom, which floods in bad weather, as the water comes in through the skylight.”

**The ramps were not built with wheelchair accessibility in mind. All of the ramps are steep and the interior ramps are both steep and slippery. There is a small step at the entrance which can be ramped upon request. The restroom is tiny and the doorway is extremely narrow. The paths leading to the house are a mix of hard packed dirt and loose gravel.

The end

Villa Savoye

82 Rue de Villiers  78300 Poissy

01 39 65 01 06