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The myth of white

The myth of white

Why do architects like white? And, above all, where does their fascination for cubic and immaculate buildings come from?

“The appearance of cubic houses coated with white stucco coincides with the arrival of modern architecture in Europe in the 1920s,” explains France Vanlaethem, associate professor at the UQAM School of Design.

Among the most famous examples of this white period, there is the housing estate for workers (mainly white) built in 1927, in Stuttgart, Germany, continues the specialist. Directed by the architect Mies van der Rohe, this project (“The city of Weissenhof”) brought together several architects, including Le Corbusier.

The latter participated in white modernity by designing, in particular, the Villa Savoye, built in the late 1920s, in France. Quebec has also counted cubic and white properties, such as the Bourdon house, in Quebec, of the architect Robert Blatter.

In all these cases, white has helped highlight the purity of the volumes of the buildings in the surrounding nature.

“But white architecture is a myth,” says France Vanlaethem. Modernists certainly used white, but they also did work on polychromy, that is, the use of color to structure space. Besides, she continues, the walls on the roof terrace of the Villa Savoye, now completely white outside, were colorful. Le Corbusier has designed houses with colored façades, including those of the modern city Frugès, in Pessac, France, which are pale green, sky blue or Siena. ”

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