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The Five Points of Architecture

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Introduction

In the early part of the 20th century, Modern architecture is starting to dominate the architectural world. Le Corbusier, one of the pioneers of modern architecture, introduced the five points of architecture, a manifesto of modern architecture. This manifesto describes the five elements that a building should have to embody the modernist style:

  • Pilotis
  • The Free Designing of Ground plan
  • The Free Design of the Façade
  • The Horizontal Window
  • Roof Garden

But before we go through all these five points, here is a brief discussion on Modernism and its influence on architecture.

Villa Savoye. Image from https://www.archdaily.com/84524/ad-classics-villa-savoye-le-corbusier

Modernism

Modernism is a philosophical, cultural, and scientific movement that began in Europe. There is no exact time or period when Modernism started. Some argued that it began after the enlightenment period(17th to 18th century), where people became self-aware and began to think of their true potentials. The enlightenment made religion and other old or classical thinking irrelevant to the progress of human civilizations. Humans become more aware of their intellectual capacities, and science becomes the source of truth.

Industrial Revolution

Fast forward to the 19th century, the Industrial Revolution propelled us further into the modern period. Mass production enabled us to produced more goods. People started to earn more as the world moves from an agricultural economy to an industrial economy. More people can afford things that back then, only the wealthy group can only have.

Eiffel Tower in Paris, France
The Crystal Palace in London
The Iron Bridge in Shropshire, England

The industrial revolution’s impact on architecture is visible. The mass production of steel, a lighter alternative to iron, was the new advanced construction material. These advanced materials enabled us to build more complex structures. The possibility of intricate designs frees up the creative potentials of designers at the time.

“Form follows Function” and Purism.

The industrial revolution’s influence on modern architecture can mainly is the principle of “form follows function.” In this principle, things should be designed to its intended function, thus eliminating the need for elaborate ornamentations that are unnecessary for its purposes.

Purism is an art movement in the early 20th century stating that objects are in their elementary forms.

Together, these two principles will be the main idea of modern architecture. Architectural design should follow function and presented to its purest form, without ornaments – the primary principles of modern architecture.

Le Corbusier

Charles-Édouard Jeanneret(1887-1965), or better known as Le Corbusier, was a Swiss-French architect and a pioneer of modern architecture. His manifesto, the “Five Points of Architecture,” is a set of architectural principles that dictates his style in Modern architecture design. In his most influential book, Vers Une Architecture, he presented his ideas on how we can move towards the new ways of designing our building to adapt to the modern era of industrialization.

Charles-Édouard Jeanneret in 1964
Unité d’habitation, a modernist residential housing developed by Le Corbusier with the collaboration the the painter-architect Nadir Afonso.

The Five Points of Architecture

Pilotis
A grid of concrete columns replaces the supporting walls.

The Free Design of the Ground Plan
In this point, grid of columns replaced the supporting walls, are possible unrestrained arrangements in the building’s interior space, giving way to more efficient and flexible designs, plus, more efficient utilization of free internal space.

The Free Design of the Façade
The columns mostly carry the structural loads, the exterior of the building is free from structural constraints. The façade is now open to a more dynamic design. Also, this preserves the building’s basic geometric form.

The Horizontal Window
The free façade gives way to a ribbon window that cuts through the entire façade’s length, giving equal lighting to the building’s interior spaces.

Roof Gardens
The roof garden compensates for the natural space on the ground taken by the building.

Villa Savoye

These five points are mostly evident in his Villa Savoye, a modernist villa located in Poissy, France. The villa was build for the Savoye family and completed in 1931. The house went to a series of renovation and now owned by the French government. UNESCO designated the building as a world heritage site in 2016.

Features of the House

Images presented are from post, AD Classics: Villa Savoye / Le Corbusier

Pilotis

Reinforced concrete columns raised the house above ground. This created a “floating” effect to the house.
Le Corbusier designed the ground level as the entrance hall as well as the utility area. The curved glass façade here is designed to the follow turning radius of automobiles.

The Free Design of the Ground Plan

Ground floor plan showing the curved pathway for cars.
The open plan design creates an airy feeling.
Top floor showing an open plan design. Not only this design creates an airy feeling, it also suggest a dimension where distinction between the interior and exterior place is not existent at all.

The Free Design of the Façade

The building’s exterior is free from the structural restriction of the columns. In this way, the basic or fundamental shape of the building is clearly visible.
The structural element is separated to the exterior pf the building.

The Horizontal Window

The the windows create the feeling of being one with the outside environment.
Not only it distributes the light to the interior spaces, the ribbon windows provides a breathable environment for the house’s dwellers.

Roof Gardens

The roof space utilized as another space for relaxation and reflection.
A house integrated to nature.

Villa Savoye is a house a revolutionary piece of architecture. When it was built, it was a new idea that will go against the norms. As usual, the house faced numerous criticisms, much like what new ideas would most likely experience. But we must admit that this house’s legacy is evident today. Just look around, you will find buildings employing the five points of architecture.
In conclusion, Le Corbusier’s vision is not only about creating a world that adheres to principles of industrialism, but it is also creating a world that transcends for generations and generations that would come. And this all started from those five principles of architecture.

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