Blog 3
Villa Savoye ( Villa Sav-wa)

Villa Savoye ( Villa Sav-wa)

  1. Structure Information

Villa Savoye was a weekend home for the Savoye family during the 1930s. Mr. Savoye was a wealthy insurer who hired architect, Le Corbusier, to design their perfect weekend home in a Poissy France. The house can be seen below in figure 1.  This house was carefully designed as every single part of this house was built with a purpose and this is because Corbusier followed the idea that form follows function.

Figure 1: Villa Savoye

  1. Historical Significance

What makes this house such a great engineering design is its simplicity. The entire house is supported by reinforced concrete beams and columns, which means all the walls are non-load bearing. Reinforced concrete was still fairly new material at this time and was not used by most architects. Corbusier chose this material as it was the best for a framed system which was needed to create a thin and light appearance.  Since none of the walls were non load bearing Corbusier could use  large windows to allow natural light to flood the inside. Also, this design allowed a lot of flexibility for the floor plans. This house was so ahead of its time that it was the  start of a worldwide movement called Modernism.


  1. Cultural Significance

As stated earlier, this house was a weekend house for the Savoye family. It sat on large plot of land where the Savoye family had a huge garden filled with fruit trees and vegetable plants. Since the Savoye family was wealthy and had a large plot of land they had servants and a grounds keeper. The servants lived on the first floor, which was a new concept at this point in time as servants usually lived on the top floor/ attic while the home owners lives on the lower levels. The grounds Keeper had his own home which can be seen in figure 2 below. As you can see, this house is very similar to the villa.

Figure 2

Even though this home lead the way to modern architecture and has been highly praised by architects from around the world, the Savoyes absolutely hated it. Since the home had a many windows and natural light it was incredibly hard to control the extreme temperatures. IN the summer it would get unbearably hot and in the winter the house was so cold it was impossible to heat up. Also, the roof would always leak no matter how much it rained. Its funny, just like the blog post I did on the albert bridge the structures completely failed to serve it purpose but was loved by the general public.

  1. Structural Art

I am going to say that this is structural art. This house has a very simple design and has very clear load path from slabs to columns, that is it. None of the walls are load bearing. Also, it was extremely innovative and was and  is still an inspiration to architects all around the world. Another interesting aspect of this house and how it relates to structural art is that Corbusier designed following the principle “form follows function”. An example of this is the back of the house. The radius of the curtain wall was designed specifically for the turning radius of the home owners car. This was done to make parking into the garage effortless for the owners. There are many more examples of this but are not related to the structural engineering. So leave a comment and ask me about it (LOL). The one thing that would not count it as structural art is that Le Corbusier had almost unlimited amount of money to spend on this house. Although most of the money did go to aesthetics like furniture and appliances.

  1. Structural Analysis

This structure is a reinforced concrete frame that supports three slabs with columns and beams. None of the walls take loads, only the beams and columns. The weight of the walls are lines loads which are transferred into the slab and then into the nearest column. The load path can be seen in figure 3 below


For the calculation I wanted to checked the buckling capacity of the column. The column that I checked is circled in figure 4. For the slab that is resting on that column and beam I assumed a density of 150 lb/ft3 and I also assumed a dead load of 15 lb/ ft.  All the dead loads can be converted to an area load onto the slab and then a line load onto the beam. Then the reaction forces of the beam can be determined which will give the load applied to the column. Then I can calculate the critical buckling load and compare it to the load applied to the column. Calculations are shown below.

Figure 4



  1. Personal Response

By coincidence there a free tour started 30 minutes after I arrived at Villa Savoy. Those first 30 minutes I was walking in and around the house and observing the load path and what not but that tour totally changed how I viewed the house. The tour made me understand how passionate Corbusier was about this house and that he designed everything for a reason. I have a new perspective now on buildings and how/ why they were built. Below are more pictures of the house to give you an idea of what I saw on the tour.