corbusier, citrohan house

 

Le Corbusier exhibited a model of his Maison Citrohan in 1920.  As he did with many of his Purist works, Le Corbusier designed the Citrohan house to be both aesthetically pleasing and functional.  His design was greatly influenced by the effects of World War I.  Le Corbusier designed the Citrohan home with the intention of creating a space that was not only efficient but also affordable.  By making the house orderly and available to the masses, Le Corbusier envisioned creating a space that was uplifting and offered a solution to the chaos resulting from the war.  His plans for the Maison Citrohan reflect his attempt to improve the standard of living after World War I.

Le Corbusier envisioned the Citrohan house as being efficient like a car.  In Le Corbusier: An Analysis of Form, Geoffrey H. Baker states that the relationship between the house and cars is evidenced by Le Corbusier’s name for the home:

He named it the Maison Citrohan as an intended compliment to the Citroën           automobile manufacturing company and because he believed it to be as efficient           as the new machines which are transforming twentieth century life.[1]

Le Corbusier perceived industrialism and technology as improving society, which is what he was attempting to do with the design of his houses.  The Maison Citrohan, especially, was intended to improve the living conditions of people’s everyday lives.  Not only was the house designed to be efficient for people’s day-to-day tasks, but it was also designed to be built with materials that could be mass produced and that were easily accessible, such as concrete.  These factory-made, mass produced items resembled parts in an assembly line, revealing Le Corbusier’s plan for the Citrohan house to mimic not only the car’s efficiency but also its method of production.  This endeavor to create an assembly line for houses is also evidenced by his attempt to create apartment style housing modeled after the Citrohan.[2]  His intention to build the house with common materials would have made the Maison Citrohan more affordable and more accessible to everyday people, which he hoped would improve society as a whole.

Le Corbusier designed the Maison Citrohan to be versatile, which explains why his designs appealed to the masses. His design is practical for a solitary figure or a family.  The house is two stories tall with the kitchen and dining room on the first floor and the bedrooms on the second floor.  The bedrooms are separate from the parts of the household associated with work to provide an area for relaxation and escape.  The living room is a double-story, meaning there is an open balcony on the upper level looking down into the living room on the lower level.  The balcony adds another dimension within the home, creating additional space.  Like many of his designs, the Maison Citrohan has a spiral staircase and a roof garden.  Le Corbusier designed the roof garden to include an area to house guests, so that both the guests and the homeowners retained their privacy.  This aspect of the design was revolutionary because it gave the homeowners the freedom to decide whether they wanted to socialize with their guests or maintain their privacy.  Le Corbusier’s attempt to make the home a kind of sanctuary directly resulted from the chaos and stress of World War I.

Le Corbusier’s architecture appealed to a variety of people, so that his design for Maison Citrohan attracted ordinary people as well as artists.  Like many of his homes, the Citrohan house was designed with many windows to provide natural light.  The model was white and rectilinear, which he intended would create order through mathematical precision.[3]  Le Corbusier and Amédée Ozenfant wrote a Purist manifesto, describing their reverence toward mathematical order: “it is superior to the brute pleasure of the senses; the senses are involved, however, because every being in this state is as if in a state of beatitude.”[4]  Le Corbusier attempted to design Citrohan, in such a way that it embodied mathematical order and evoked a kind of religious experience from his viewers.  By omitting ostentatious decorations and preserving aesthetically pleasing elements, such as the spiral staircase, Le Corbusier created a harmony within the Maison Citrohan that appealed to artists on an intellectual level and the masses on a spiritual level.  His design was intended to offer a kind of release from emotional frustration and social constraints, which would have resulted in a happiness that could not be attained during the war.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bibliography

Baker, Geoffrey H. Le Corbusier: An Analysis of Form. New York, New York: Van Nostrand     Reinhold, 1984.

Florida Agricultural and MechanicalUniversity. “Le Corbusier’s Five Points of Architecture.”      Last modified January 25, 2003. http://famusoa.net/achin/courses/le_corbusier/essay-tse    5.pdf.

Jeanneret, Charles Edouard and Amédée Ozenfant. “Purism.” In Art in Theory 1900-2000: An      Anthology of Changing Ideas, edited by Charles Harrison and Paul Wood, 239-42.          Malden, Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishing, 2003.


[1] Geoffrey H. Baker, Le Corbusier: An Analysis of Form (New York, New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1984), 90.

[2] Florida Agricultural and MechanicalUniversity, “Le Corbusier’s Five Points of Architecture”, last modified January 25, 2003, http://famusoa.net/achin/courses/le_corbusier/essay-tse-5.pdf.

[3] Charles Edouard Jeanneret and Amédée Ozenfant, “Purism,” in Art in Theory 1900-2000: An Anthology of Changing Ideas, eds. Charles Harrison and Paul Wood (Malden, Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishing, 2003), 239.

[4] Ibid.

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