Story five –
Le Corbusier’s observation that a house is a machine for living in was first properly realised in his Villa Savoy. Shorn of structural convention and historical precedent, it is designed for flexible living, one based on a philosophy capable of ‘an infinite number of combinations of plans’. He would go on to describe its design as ‘pure, exactly made for the needs of the house.’
If ever a time needed homes capable of adapting to infinite needs and wants, then this is it. Le Corbusier theorised in times when our freedom to be with others informed our freedom to be not with others. Those times have been put on ice. Our geographical footprint is confined to the home. The free-form living envisioned by Le Corbusier has been overtaken by days programmed to incorporate all that we have been forced to leave behind. We are living in a gym, a workplace, a classroom. The world outside is now restricted to the absolutely essential. To flip Le Corbusier’s assessment of Villa Savoy, the needs of the house are now the needs of the world itself. The home is no longer only shelter, family hub, base, and symbol. It is now everything.
All of which places the machine for living in under considerable strain. However, it also points to the possibility of a great cultural shift, one that in the long-term may come to redefine our concept of the home. Boxed in by the virus, we are in the process of designing a machine for a new kind of living.
Words by Adam Scott and Dave Waddell
Illustration Jessica Watson
The historian Peter Hennessy recently observed that future historians will divide post-divide society into BC and AC – Before COVID and After COVID. It is in exactly this spirit that AfterCOVID seeks to celebrate how the world’s largest shared experience has given us the most extraordinary stories of what it means to live beautifully. Together, they are the clues to creating the future we all hope for.
FreeState is planning for a post-COVID future. Share your story with us – really, we’d love to talk. In the meantime, stay well.