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  • Writer's pictureRicardo Escobar

Comparison between Le Corbusier “Villa Savoye” and Frank Lloyd Wright “Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum”

Along with this paper, an analysis of similarities and differences from these two objects that are architectural buildings, the building Villa Savoye has been taken from Art History, 6th Edition, Chapter 32, page 1059. And the Guggenheim Museum has been chosen from chapter 33 of the same book.

Image 1: Villa Savoye, Photo by Paris/artist Right Society (ARS), New York 2016. Image 2:  Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, Photo By Andrew Gran.
Image 1: Villa Savoye, Photo by Paris/artist Right Society (ARS), New York 2016. Image 2: Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, Photo By Andrew Gran.


There will be an analysis of functionality, materials, style, and perception. Villa Saboye is edified in France and is a European Modernism example by excellence, with very powerful geometric lines and pure ideas that rectilinear forms can be enough to have an elegant and Modern building constructed through 1929-1930 (Art History, 6th Edition, Chapter 32, Pages 1058-1059, Paragraph 3-4). Le Corbusier made the Villa Savoye as an example of Modern Art, Characterized by its purity and harmony, this important building in the history of 20th-century architecture retains its avant-garde character. The fine piles, free planes, banded windows, and roofs of the villa, only theorize the fundamental principles of the Modern Movement. Almost 90 years after its construction, the Villa Savoye still serves as a benchmark in modern functionalist architecture.

On the other hand, the Guggenheim Museum is a manifesto from Frank Lloyd Wright of mid-century modern architecture, designed as a sculptural work of art of its very own right, taking a curved spiral shape constructed between 1943-1959 (Art History, 6th Edition, Chapter 33, Pages 1120-1121, Paragraph 5). Lloyd Wright was fresh air to the modern movement, by reinforcing that the simplistic and non-ornamental architecture can still be curved and elegant, by adding these curved geometrical forms to the main architectural and structural building.


The Villa Saboye is a main rectangular-shaped lifted from the ground floor by the columns, leaving most of the surface in contact with the land free of occupation, allowing autonomy between landscape and building. The open plan, the structure of concrete pillars and porticoes allow spatial freedom by eliminating load-bearing walls.

The free façade, the façade freed from the weight of the structure, can now be composed according to the aesthetic criteria of the Architect. In the continuous window, the openings become horizontal openings more appropriate to the perspective of the human eye, instead of the traditional vertical ones resulting from the old load-bearing wall structures. The garden deck, deck is made flat and a garden is arranged on it (Online Article, Villa Savoye, History of the Monument, . Le Corbusier believed that a Modern house should be a “Machine we are living in” meaning that its design should be rational and functional empowered by the simplicity of its forms (Art History, 6th Edition, Chapter 32, Pages 1058-1059, Paragraph 3-4).

In Lloyd Wright’s case, he wanted a building that is a full contrast with the skyline of the city, making something else than a concrete or Christal block, making a new landmark to Manhattan (Art History, 6th Edition, Chapter 33, Pages 1120-1121, Paragraph 5). The most outstanding element of the building is its spiral ramp, for Wright, the ramp responded to the need to make the route of the exhibition more intuitive for the visitor. For the museum visitor, it was easier to enter the building, go up through an elevator to the upper level and go down the ramp little by little around an open patio that provides light to the building, through a large skylight. Wright said that in most museums, the public had to walk through long exhibition galleries, then back through them to make their way to the exit.


Le Corbusier conceives the Villa Savoye as a typological prototype for future serial constructions, projected as a paradigm of the house as a machine to inhabit “machine to live in”. Le Corbusier, within the concrete reinforced with steel bars, wanted to transform houses, understanding them as machines that had to fulfill their objective, in this case, to be inhabited (Art History, 6th Edition, Chapter 32, Pages 1058-1059, Paragraph 3-4). After Le Corbusier presented the house, there was a new area of possibilities for other architects to explore geometrical forms and leave ornaments aside, because they are not needed anymore to elevate the space, being architectural works that transformed the conception of architecture and architectural thought in the twentieth century.

The Guggenheim Museum still maintaining its form and main functionality bases, with no changes of programs, remaining with the interior intended intimacy of a “living room” despite minimal alteration made by the museum’s first directors (Art History, 6th Edition, Chapter 33, Pages 1120-1121, Paragraph 5). The fact that the museum stills the same and is a touristic, art appreciation space, and the that the architectural program is still intact, is a confirmation that Le Corbusier did a very good approach to full the museum needs to display the art and give a great experience to the visitors.

On the other hand, the might be some ups and downs with the Villa Savoye, it was meant to the single-family home, but the architecture was so good and unique, and empowering that it turn out to be a museum, that instead to walk in and appreciate art, you appreciate the architecture itself and how it empowers the different tasks that its habitants do every day.

As a final analysis, both buildings have similarities and differences, they both share geometrical, and pure forms, that empower functionality in the interior, with it becomes a landmark on the exterior, also they both were fresh air to the modern movement, the Villa Savoye in the beginning of the century and the Modern Style, and the Guggenheim Museum as the Mid-Century Modern style. One of the main differences in the form, Villa Savoye has rectilinear forms as the main character with delicate and pronounced curves that are smaller volumes, and Guggenheim Museum has curved and organic shapes as a main architectural feature with very subtle straight light that divides de volumes vertically. Scale is the main factor of difference, one bing a single-family house, and the other being a massive city-scale museum to host hundreds of people every day. Making them so different in form but similar in style, with features that make both unique architecture Modern examples.

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