15th January 2017
1122 Argyle Street
I spotted this café, squeezed into a small spot in Finnieston while cycling past last night. A very modest exterior that intrigues you to peer through the window and discover what lies inside. Fortunately you are greeted with a wall of mixed breads and a wonderful array of cakes, making it difficult to turn away. A welcome warmth on a fresh and frosty Sunday, hopefully setting the bar high for breakfasts to come in 2017.
Scrolling through my photos the other day, I stumble upon my records of our class trip to Paris last February. The trip as a whole had many highlights, but there is one stream of photos in particular that strikes a chord with me a reminds me of a truly emotive experience.
Taking a short trip to the outskirts of Paris to visit Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye was an experience that I will never forget. Having read various literature on Corbusier’s work before the trip and viewing numerous photos, I had formulated what I thought was a well rounded opinion of the building but I didn’t know that visiting it in the flesh would mark a milestone in my design career. As we made our journey to the villa, I was reminded of the excitement that I used to get as a child when I would travel somewhere with my family. Experiencing this same feeling, really confirmed my interest and appreciation of design and gave me a very clear representation of how my interests had matured. I shall also speak of ‘we’ throughout this post as partaking in the experience with my course-mates/flatmates/friends had an equal importance in highlighting where I was in my life - having the ability to converse so explicitly about a design icon.
The approach to the villa was as memorable as the building itself. Walking through Poissy in the brief beauty of blue skies and sunshine on what had been a rather cold trip until this point, we initially caught sight of signs, followed by road markings closer to the destination and finally the stark white façade of the villa peeking out from behind the trees.
This approach also represents one of my favourite points about the building. Influential to the design, the original family would enter along the driveway and under the building itself. The curved arc of the industrial glazing on the ground floor entrance was determined by the turning circle of a 1927 Citroën. The chauffeur would drop off the family and proceed around the curve to park in the garage - an instant sign that the building had been designed with both experience and function in mind.
The villa is thought of as the purest representation of the five points of new architecture - formulated by Le Corbusier in 1927 as the fundamental principles of the Modern movement - and it provides a framework for the journey through the building.
The pilotis that lift the form up from the ground - made from reinforced concrete - provide both aesthetic appeal and functional freedom. In providing the structural support for the house, Corbusier was free to construct the upper level as he desired, incorporating his next two points: a free façade and an open floor plan - both of which come hand in hand. The long horizontal windows allow unencumbered views of the villa’s surroundings and allows the resident to feel a connection to the buildings environment. The final point - a roof garden - was incorporated to compensate for the green area that the house’s foundations displaced - simply raising it up instead of destroying it completely.
There are countless explorations of these points, in much greater depth, by people far more qualified than myself, so I believe that a chronological photo stream displaying my route through the villa is the purest way to illustrate the emotive journey. After all, it wasn’t the understanding of technical detail that made this so special, but immersing ourselves within the structure to experience it as Corbusier intended.
As mentioned, this was a truly memorable experience for me and rightfully earns its place as a day that I will never forget. I would be interested to see how I would experience it on a second visit, after having time to process the meeting and develop myself further. Perhaps the revisit will mark another milestone in my life.
Safe choices for both of us for the first breakfast back in 2017 - pancakes with bacon and maple syrup along with egg’s benedict for myself. As usual the clean plates speak for themselves, although my only gripe was that the poached eggs were cooked right through. This aside, everything else was perfect and the cosy atmosphere was welcoming and not too busy. Not a bad start to the year and it would definitely be worth another visit.