Students Add New Flourishes To An Iconic House By Le Corbusier

Almost 100 years after being built, Villa Le Lac gets new touches from a group of budding ECAL designers.

Le Corbusier’s cozy Villa Le Lac was built in the early 1920s in Corseaux, Switzerland, overlooking the great expanse of Lake Geneva, and the compact, open-plan place–once the residence of the master modern architect’s folks–has been expertly maintained for almost 100 years. In a first for the villa and nearby University of Art and Design Lausanne (ECAL), students were tasked with creating new pieces for this historic locale under the guidance of professors Elric Petit (who is also one-third of Big Game) and Chris Kabel.


Prior to producing anything, each student was required to determine precisely where their object would go and what purpose it would serve; this process, and its inherent careful consideration, ensured each item looked and felt at home in the home, which itself came with a unique set of limitations. “Constraints like proximity of the lake and integration of the landscape to the nature of the building as a historical monument and its specific 4mx16m floor plan presented the students with a real challenge, and played a talent‑revealing role,” Petit tells Co.Design.

Some students created site-specific accessories, while others discovered chances to enact small, but smart and subtle, improvements. During his first visit, Yann Mathys noted that some door handles banged against each other, while others hit and damaged the adjacent walls. His solution was a series of door handles made of silicone, a material that absorbs the shocks, modeled on the shape and hue of the originals so as “not to spoil or distort the initial typology,” Petit explains. “It’s a discreet but efficient modification. Like a delicately molded impression of an archaeological artifact, Handle With Care is a play on words that participates in the conservation of the place while respecting its identity.”

Other contributions include a series of ingenious small shelves that slot into the exterior metal cladding (which itself was added decades after original construction was completed), custom hooks for hanging towels in the bathroom, and a collection of short outdoor lights to illuminate the surrounding lawn and gravel paths. The exhibition was open to the public in July and August, an early celebration of what would have been Corbu’s 125th birthday and a breath of fresh air for his perennially beautiful classic–quite an opportunity for the next generation to make their own mark on the work of an icon.

(H/T Daily Icon)