Machine for Living

[I'm very pleased to introduce a guest blogger—architect John Clagett—for today's Flashback Friday post. —LC]

Eighty years after its completion in 1931, Le Corbusier's Villa Savoy remains a striking work. Two qualities of its bathroom have never let go of my imagination, in part because they seem at war with one another. First is its austerity. Impoverished materials, lack of ornament, industrial fixtures, exposed plumbing and concrete frame all underline a key message of the house: Austerity is a non-negotiable prerequisite for maintaining the health of mind and body.

The second is the room's playfulness. The tiled lounge invites the user to linger—to recline, and bathe in sunlight; while conversely, the multiple floor levels turn the room into a kind of gymnasium. As well, by opening the bath to the adjacent bedroom, the house seems to urge its occupants to reveal and revere the human form.

Through austerity, the architect propounds restraint; through playfulness, liberty.