Interpretations of the Free Plan in Modern Architecture.

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Introduction         3

Villa Savoye: Free Plan and Function         3

Barcelona Pavilion: Relationship of Spaces         5

Conclusion         8

Bibliography         9


Some people regarded the free plan as one of the most influential idea in modern architecture. When a floor plan that is free from any load-bearing wall, the interior articulation can be flexible as there are no limitations  on the location  of wall placed. Architects  can therefore  manipulate space according to their wish and concepts. In order to achieve the free plan, technology plays a vital role. The use of reinforced concrete and steel made the structure free from any load-bearing walls.

The idea of the free plan was first published in Le Corbusier’s “Five points towards a New Architecture” 1 in  1926.  Corbusier  envisioned  that  new  architecture’s  ground  plan  should  be “freed”. The supporting systems no longer rely on walls but on other mediums, such as columns.

Hence there is “absolute freedom” in designing the plan, and each floor can be partitioned independently. This declaration was published at the time when Le Corbusier was working on the exhibition in Weissenhof Siedlung, where other architects, such as Mies van der Rohe, were also involved. In this essay, the realization of free plan is analyzed through two famous works by Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe respectively  – the Villa Savoye, and the Barcelona Pavilion. Both  architects  started  their  projects  at  the  same  time,  however  their  interpretation  and  the outcome of the free plan is drastically different.


Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye was built in 1931 and is situated in Poissy, France2. It is regarded as a great demonstration of his “Five Points towards a new architecture”. The five points are: the supports; the utilization of flat roof by a roof garden; the free plan; the use of horizontal windows

for uniform lighting; and the free design of the façade which is made possible by setting back load-bearing columns.


1 Le Corbusier, 1926. “Five Points towards a New Architecture”, In: Conrads, ed. 1970. Programs and

Manifestoes, pp. 99-101.

2 Glynn, Simon. Villa Savoye Possy by Le Corbusier. 2011. (accessed

May 24, 2013).

Fig. 1. Le Corbusier, Villa Savoye, 1928-31, Poissy, France.3

From  fig. 1, it can  be seen  that  Corbusier  had  introduced  the  main  structural  members,  the pilotis, to make his five points on architecture possible. In particular, these structures are also the key to the free plan of this house.

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Fig. 2. Floor Plans. Le Corbusier, Villa Savoye, 1928-31, Poissy, France.4

The floor plans from figure two revealed that there are no common wall structures for each level of the house. Corbusier used pilotis as the main structural components  to facilitate a free plan. Therefore each floor has its own characteristics, from a square plan to a round, semi-open plan. There are no clear common organizations  of space between floors, and space can be divided and articulated according to the hierarchy, ...

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