Sunday, October 31, 2010



Art Nouveau, 1890-1914, explores a new style in the visual arts and architecture that developed in Europe and North America at the end of the nineteenth century.Art Nouveau was a concerted attempt to create an international style based on decoration. It was developed by a brilliant and energetic generation of artists and designers, who sought to fashion an art form appropriate to the modern age. During this time, urban life as we now understand it was established. Old customs, habits, and artistic styles sat alongside new, combining a wide range of contradictory images and ideas. Many artists, designers, and architects were excited by new technologies and lifestyles, while others retreated into the past, embracing the spirit world, fantasy, and myth.

Art Nouveau architects Horta who designed the iconic Hotel Eetvelde in Brussels. creating an indistinct, continuous flow of seamless, organic elements. In the Hotel Horta used a hanging steel construction for the façade. The interior receives additional lighting through a central reception room covered by a stained-glass cupola. The building has a more conventional, beautifully detailed sandstone façade.

Hotel Eetvelde / Brussels, Belgium / Victor Horta (Massey, pg 35).
In Spain the style was concentrated in the eccentric hands of Gaudi in Barcelona. Casa Batllo seems that the goal of the designer was to avoid straight lines completely. Much of the façade is decorated with a mosaic made of broken ceramic tiles that starts in shades of golden orange moving into greenish blues. The roof is arched and was likened to the back of a dragon

Casa Battlo / Barcelona, Spain / Antonio Gaudi (Masey, pg 47).

Art Nouveau was in many ways a response to the Industrial Revolution. Some artists welcomed technological progress and embraced the aesthetic possibilities of new materials such as cast iron. Others deplored the shoddiness of mass-produced machine-made goods and aimed to elevate the decorative arts to the level of fine art by applying the highest standards of craftsmanship and design to everyday objects. Art Nouveau designers also believed that all the arts should work in harmony to create a "total work of art"

Villa Savoye

Villa Savoye, Le Corbusier (Roth Pg 476)

Villa Savoye is an excellent example of Le Corbusier's Machine for Living ideal, it is no surprise that the house employs a number of mechanical devices for easing manual tasks. The automobile was a new thing at the time, and Le Corbusier put a lot of though into how the experience of arriving at the site by car would be integrated into the experience of the house.

The main part of the house is located on the first floor, while the ground floor is occupied by the hall and offices for the service, with a garage capable of storing 3 automobiles of the time, something that was a milestone in the history of architecture and a great step forward for its time. Pass through a thick stand of mature trees which then open up into the clearing, with the house in the middle. The driveway then leads under the house and around to the front door. In fact the radius of the curve of the ground floor leading to the entrance was determined by the turning radius of a car of the day. So residence would get out of the car, protected under the house, and enter the front door.

The Villa Savoye was designed by Le Corbusier as a paradigm of the "machine as a home", so that the functions of everyday life inside become critical to its design.


Robie House, Frank Lloyd Wright (Roth, Pg 464)

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