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How to design your house like Le Corbusier would want you to!

Chloe Hines Chloe Hines
Minimalist houses by Neugebauer Architekten BDA Minimalist
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Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris, better known as Le Corbusier, was one of those designers that almost everyone has familiarity with even if architecture and design are somewhat out of your element.  He was a Swiss-French architect that also dabbled in painting, designing and urban planning and is better known for his theories and writings on architecture and design.

Considered a pioneer of modern architecture, Le Corbusier constantly sought to reinvent our concept of a city and what it meant to properly function within one.  He was also one of the first architects to explore the idea of open-concept living—and he applied this theory to urban spaces as well.  Minimal, functional and community-style living were all a part of this utopian ideal that Le Corbusier believed in and his many architectural projects that span across both the Americas and Europe are exemplary of this!

It is in fact true, that most modern and multifunctional designs today are inspired by Le Corbusier's designs and ideas!  One of Le Corbusier's most famous quotes is that, The home should be the treasure chest of living—and below we will explore the full meaning of this idea by looking at different products and designs that you should consider! Ask any designer—Le Corbusier's ideas are just as relevant now as they were 60 years ago—and you should let this guide you when designing your home in order to create a timeless, functional space.

Le Corbusier's Five Points of Architecture

The Villa Savoye is one of the most famous and celebrated architectural projects completed by Le Corbusier. Located just outside of Paris, the Villa Savoye was, in the eyes of Le Corbusier, one of his most perfect projects—fully embodying his 'Five Points of Architecture.'

The Five Points of Architecture and the basis of the new aesthetic are as follows:

Pilotis - replace supporting walls by a grid of reinforced concrete columns that bears the structural load

The free designing of the ground plan - the absence of supporting walls—means the house is unrestrained in its internal use

The free design of the façade - separating the exterior of the building from its structural function—sets the façade free from structural constraints

The horizontal window - which cuts the façade along its entire length, lights rooms equally


Roof gardens—on a flat roof

These five design techniques were both developed and realized by Le Corbusier as his personal aesthetic and personal belief in the concept of a 'home.' They also became the foundation for what is now known as modern architecture and minimalist architecture.


Really, the basis of this new aesthetic developed by Le Corbusier, was Pilotis. Without the pilotis structural changes, the rest of the Five Points of Architecture would be impossible. By replacing the supporting walls with a grid of reinforced concrete columns that can fully bear the structural load of the home, Le Corbusier believed he was creating what we now call, open-concept living.

If you're looking for a way to both open-up and brighten your home, consider pilotis in your structural changes. Make sure that when knocking down and removing walls in your home that they are non-load bearing as to not compromise the structural integrity of your home. Of course, if you've moved into an older home where the design was out of your hands, then your options will be quite limited—however, removing all walls that are non-load bearing will create an openness that you never thought possible! No matter the size of your home, it will create a larger-looking environment that is super minimal and sleek, as seen here.

The Free Designing of the Ground Plan

As the supporting walls are removed with the concept of pilotis and replaced by minimal reinforced concrete columns, this opens the ground floor up for a plethora of design options. Leave the ground floor of your home open and minimal to achieve the look of a typical Le Corbusier home.

Privacy is definitely compromised with any Le Corbusier design, as he prefers open-concept living and floor-to-ceiling windows—we know for most homeowners this is of concern, however, full window coverings (like the ones seen here in the corners) can easily fix this problem without removing natural light.

The Free Design of the Façade

One of the harder concepts of the 'Five Points of Architecture' to both understand and construct is the 'free design of the façade.'  Le Corbusier believed that by separating the exterior of the building from its structural function, it set the façade free from structural constraints. As with most homes, including yours, the exterior of your home must usually follow the foundation in order to provide a stable structural environment.

However, when you remove the façade from the exterior of the building and strategically place it separately, it frees the façade of any structural and thus, design, limitations.  If you're looking to do this with your home, but don't want to completely reconstruct the foundation—then think about cladding, or timber/metal based façades for a more cost-effective option. This is a rather hard choice to execute, as the structure of your home might not have been solely your decision. 

This modern façade in stone and timbers is a great example!

The Horizontal Window

The horizontal window is one of the most famous aspects of any Le Corbusier design.  Take a look at both the Villa Savoye and the Barcelona Pavilion as great examples of how Le Corbusier's concept of the 'horizontal window' speaks volumes. Allowing full access to all areas of the home from both the interior and exterior, the horizontal window was developed as a means of letting natural light access all areas of the home equally.

Allowing natural light to access all areas of your home equally creates both an efficient heat and light source for modern homes that tend to be considered cold and stark.  A sense of warmth with homes like these is necessary to create a cosy environment.  From a more theoretical point of view, modern architects (particularly in Germany) during the turn of the century were experimenting with the idea of transparency in architecture.  The rise and fall of unstable social, political and economic systems inspired decades of transparency in all areas of life—architecture included. Remember, it might simply be called a 'horizontal window' technique—but the meanings are always more complex and interesting! 

Designer Aleksandr Zhydkov creates wonderful modern home environments, quite reminiscent of Le Corbusier's work!

Roof Gardens on a Flat Roof

For Le Corbusier, the inclusion of a roof garden on a flat roof is purely functional. The garden is meant to provide sustenance and food for the current family and protection from the elements for the concrete roof.

We think adding a roof-top garden is always a good idea, no matter what style your home. However, if you're home is of a flat-roof design, or made of concrete or stucco, then a roof-top garden might also be important in more functional ways for you home as well.  Add small stones and soil as a means of drainage, and make sure you have proper drainage to other areas of the house as to not over-load the weight bearing abilities of the home.

Are you inspired by Le Corbusier? Tell us how you incorporate his designs into your living space by commenting below!
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