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I received a lego set as a Christmas gift from my brother and his wife a few days ago, and within a few hours I set about putting it together. As he suggested, as like all my projects I documented with photos the construction of the model, which can be seen above.

The Villa Savoye by French architect Le Corbusier is one of the most recognizable residential buildings in the world. As an architect I have seen pictures and studied the five points of “Total Purity” for both school and the architecture board exam, while putting this lego model together the instruction booklet reviewed them for me: Pilotis, Functional roof garden, Open floor plan, Long horizontal windows (ribbon windows as they were referred to in our classes), Freely designed facades; serving only as a skin of the walls and windows.

As I followed the simple yet exact instructions, I reflect how designers learn about their buildings when they build them, and since its not everyday that you can build a Villa Savoye, a lego model is indeed the next best thing. By making an artifact with your hands and to see in a simplified manner the intent of the architect, you gain a greater appreciation of the concepts and ideas that went into the building. I would even say that it would be a great exercise for students of architecture to try either building a lego model, or a scale model of their own making to further appreciate the forms and spaces that comprise architecture.

So many thoughts crossed my mind while assembling it. That it was completed in 1931 means its over 80 years old, and yet its vocabulary is still in great use. It was a product of a particular time of industry and by the architect’s ideas regarding scale and construction. And lastly how many of the numerous parts would be “sobra” or left over meaning that I had gotten some of the instructions wrong.

Thank you Pao and Kath, I completed it about three hours later with some difficulty. That it says: “for 12 years old and above” gave me an idea how smart 12 year olds of this generation must be.
I found this article online that I now save because of the directions to its site for those who may one day visit it: Villa Savoye

Here’s to more learning and construction in 2013 from Eugene T Mangubat & Associates. Belated Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!