Chile’s answer to Le Corbusier's Villa Savoye
What do you make of this Latin American architect’s interpretation of modernism's greatest country house?
When building his own home, a Chilean architect chose to pay homage to a masterwork of modernism. The challenge is great, as Le Corbusier’s 1929 Villa Savoye is credited with transforming the 20th century architect's career, as well as introducing many of the principles of the International Style. William J R Curtis writes in our new book on the architect, that Villa Savoye demonstrates “the complete assurance of Le Corbusier’s formal system in maturity, and even hints at reasons for changes in style that were imminent.”
Le Corbusier's French country house, built in Poissy, on the outskirts of Paris, draws on the architect's Five Points of Architecture, as set down his 1923 book, Towards an Architecture: pilotis or stilts, a flat roof terrace, open plan, ribbon windows, and a façade free from structural constraints.
Now, 86 years later, Chilean architect Victor Gubbins has borrowed from this philosophy and aesthetic for his own ends. Casa Mirador is the architect’s holiday home in Tunquén, which is northeast of the capital Santiago. The coastal scenery there is draw dropping, and the casa perches on a rocky outcrop.
This new building might not look much like Corbusier’s 1929 work, but Gubbins explains that the architectural concept of his retreat reflects what he remembers from three visits to the Villa Savoye: “its basic geometry, solar orientation and communication with the site”. Some of the Five Points are on show, notably the flat roof terraces, and the open-plan nature of the living spaces on the upper floor, between which winds a spiral staircase to the balconies.
Rather than pilotis, the Santiago architect has given Casa Mirador a small ground floor base, with the top-heavy bulk of the house sitting on above. As well as the form, it is the building material that recalls the Parisian villa. However, whereas Le Corbusier white washed the concrete, Gubbins has left his exposed.
Chile has long had a track record of creative contemporary architecture, particularly in the residential sector. Gubbins’ own firm, Gubbins Arquitectos, is up there with emA Arquitectos, Ennead Architects, Alvaro Arancibia and Sebastian Coll, and Mauricio Pezo and Sofia von Ellrichshausen.
For more on Le Corbusier’s heritage go here; for greater insight into Latin American houses get this book; and for more on a pioneering domestic architecture in Japan get Jutaku.