Villa "Le Lac" Le Corbusier – The hole in the wall and other experiments

The 300 sqm plot is located on the eastern end of Lake Geneva, in the village of Corseaux and has direct access to the lake. The narrow plot with a small depth allowed the disposition of the 16-meter-long and 4-meter-wide building with its long side to the south. "The plan fits on the ground like a glove," wrote Le Corbusier, referring to it as a "living machine". Le Corbusier used this term for his intended new type of residential house, whose interiors merge into each other, as later in the various Unité d'Habitation in France and Berlin.

The arrangement of the rooms follows the sequence of the individual activities, while the floor space for the respective function is reduced to a minimum. The floor area of the villa "Le Lac" Le Corbusier amounts to 64 square meters with all ancillary rooms. The height of the rooms is 2.5 meters. Le Corbusier's parents moved into the villa in 1924. The father, Georges Edouard Jeanneret, died a year later. Le Corbusier's mother, Marie-Charlotte Amélie Jeanneret-Perret, lived in the house until the age of 101. After her death, the house was inhabited Le Corbusier’s brother, the musician Albert Jeanneret, from 1960 to 1973.No later than in 1931, Le Corbusier installed a diving board on the wall. Since he did not want to swim alone, a few years later he tried to give his brother Albert swimming lessons – sending him a letter! In a letter dated from August 24, 1934, Le Corbusier actually describes the way of swimming, the position of the body and the head, explaining how to breathe and how to position the feet. In vain. Albert never learned to swim ...

With its purist style, the Villa Le Corbusier is a milestone. A masterpiece of invention and functionalism. This laboratory of modernity is one of the most personal and imaginative works of the architect. In 2016, the villa was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List alongside 16 other Le Corbusier buildings.


The hole in the wall – architectural features

From the street (1), you reach the portal (2) on the north side and the house entrance (3). To the right is the cloakroom (4), right next to it is the kitchen (5), laundry (6) with opposite laundry room (11) and the exit to the courtyard (7). From the beginning, it was planned to surround the property with a two-meter-high perimeter wall, which is lowered to ground level only in the area of the south facing house side. The purpose of this wall is to block the view to the north, east and partly to the south and west. Le Corbusier wrote: "The ubiquitous and overpowering landscape on all sides is tiring. [...] To give more weight to the landscape, you have to restrict it, give it a measure; blocking the view through walls that only pierce at certain strategic points and clear the view. [...] The garden looks like a green hall due to the confinement." The south wall is broken by a square cutout (14), which offers the view on the lake and the mountains and provides shade. Here is a table top built into the wall. Next to the door into the dining room is a seat (13), the roof over it is supported by two columns. If you go along the lake on the side of the house, you reach an outside staircase over which you get to the roof garden (15). The terrace is bordered with a railing equal to the construction of a ship railing.

On the inside, the basic concept was that the living room (8) and the bedroom (9) with adjoining bathroom (10) are illuminated by the daylight of the horizontal windows, the main element of the house. In his book "Une petite Maison", Le Corbusier describes how the villa follows the course of the sun: "The rising sun is caught by an oblique transom and completes its cycle in front of our house during the day." In the eastern part is a small Dining room (12) with sink and sleeping possibility. After the road has been extended, Le Corbusier has built a guest room (not numbered) for himself and his wife and an additional wall to protect against street noise. The guest room is equipped with two beds placed one above the other, next to it is a pedestal, which serves as a commode and on which a table and chair are placed, standing in front of a window band. The room is reached via an external staircase in the courtyard on the north side.

"To give the landscape more weight, you have to restrict it, give it a measure; obstruct the view through walls that are only piercing at certain strategic points and clear the view."


- Le Corbusier -

In 1927, Le Corbusier published a series of architectural principles, the "Five Points of a New Architecture", which he used as the basis of his designs. Years before, Le Corbusier experimented with these principles at the Villa "Le Lac", which fulfills three of the five points of a new architecture: the roof garden can be reached by an external staircase on the north side and is covered with soil. The free floor plan, which allows movable partition walls to individually subdivide the guest quarters and the 11-meter-long window on the south side, which dips the interior in light.


Colour design in Le Corbusier's Villa "Le Lac"


For Le Corbusier, colour was the fourth dimension of architecture. In his early years as an architect, he already experimented a lot with architectural colour design, as well as in his parents’ villa. In the garden - the "green hall" as Le Corbusier called it - the view is broken by the white seawall. From the floor to the table surface, the raw stone wall is exposed. It seems to reflect the silent lake surface, as seen through the cutout in the wall.

Inside the house is brown linoleum floor in all rooms, which should remind of the earth on which we are walking. The wall under the window band is reddish brown, which fixes the area in the room. The east wall of the living room as well as the fixed furniture element shine in a bright cerulean blue, which makes the room appear larger and conveys the sensation of a water landscape or sky, which are reflected by the horizontal windows on the opposite side. The dining room also has an optical extension by a deep ultramarine. In the south-west part, the bedroom is held in a light sienna, which should give the residents a feeling of warmth and comfort. This shade is particularly dynamic and radiant at sunset. With its blue colour design, the guest room in the annex should appear larger than it actually is, just like the living room. Walls and objects in cerulean appear more receding or are hardly noticeable.



Photography Copyright
©Les Couleurs Suisse AG
©Villa ‹Le Lac› Le Corbusier/ Patrick Moser

Villa "Le Lac" Le Corbusier  

The Villa "Le Lac" Le Corbusier offers not only exhibitions about Le Corbusier, but also about architecture in general. Amongst the past exhibitions: FOLDING COSMOS, Adrien Couvrat, Alberto Sartoris and René Burri. Opening times until September 2018: Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 11.00 to 18.00


Villa "Le Lac" Le Corbusier
Route de Lavaux 21
CH-1802 Corseaux



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