Sunken modernism: Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye by art installation

Although this project was completed in 2018 it is worth remembering. Villa Savoye is an icon of modernism. The artist Asmund Havsteen-Mikkelsen decided to make a replica of it and immerse it in the Danish fjord Vejle.

The submerged villa was part of an artistic event, the Floating Art Festival, which is periodically organised by the Vejle Museum in Denmark. The replica of the villa is life-size, weighs five tonnes and was made of plywood and wood. It was only partially submerged in water, so viewers could easily recognise the reference to the French architect’s iconic building. The installation Flooded Modernity was created as a manifesto to address geopolitical changes in the world.

Asmund Havsteen-Mikkelsen points to the problem of modern technology having a real impact on our lives. President Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential election, the referendum for Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union, the proliferation of propaganda on social media or Vladimir Putin’s ‘winnable’ elections. The manipulation of the public is extremely simple, it just requires an outlay of money. The waterboarding of the villa is an appeal to society, which should protect democratic values, be critical of the information it receives and verify its veracity. Otherwise the ‘reason’ of modern society will sink.

Villa Savoye was built in 1931 to a design by Le Corbusier. Le Corbusier’s cousin Pierre Jeanneret also participated in the design work. The building is a key work in the architect’s oeuvre, who realised here the key principles of his work. The villa refers to the ‘international style’ and was created as a ‘machine for living’.

Villa ‘Savoye’ in Poissy near Paris:

photo by LStrike,, licence: CC BY-SA 3.0

The architect was guided by five principles. The main body of the building rises on reinforced concrete columns which exposed the ground floor space, which is additional living space. The walls do not have to support the roof, which gave the architect the opportunity to shape them freely and use large glazing. The roof itself is not pitched, but flat. This created another space for use, such as building a terrace.

The Villa Savoye was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2016.

photo source: Asmund Havsteen-Mikkelsen

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