The Villa Shodhan is one of three houses designed by Le Corbusier for prominent families in Ahmedabad, Gujurat, while he was working on the design of Chandigarh, capital city of Punjab. Initially designed for another member of the Ahmedabad Millowners Association, the house was built for Shyamubhai Shodhan, a textile manufacturer, his wife and four children. It is still owned and used by the Shodhan family.
During the 1920s Le Corbusier formulated his 'Five points of architecture' which were embodied in most of his early house designs, most famously the Villa Savoye at Poissy. These principles of elevation, flat roofs, free plans and free facades became the starting point for modernist house design and were adopted by numerous architects throughout the world. From the 1930s to the surprise (and frequent consternation) of his followers, Le Corbusier increasingly incorporated vernacular and sculptural elements into his work, apparently contradicting his own principles. In fact Le Corbusier's later work demonstrates the flexibility and potential of his design precepts. The Villa Shodhan is one of the best known projects of this period.
Le Corbusier's Villa Shodhan includes elements of Indian architecture, notably the double-height entry hall (signifying the owner's status) and the parasol roof providing a shading umbrella to the entire structure. The roof also supports a lush lawn and water troughs. A separate ground floor wing houses garage and storage space as well as servant accommodation.
Other aspects of the design are more generic to Le Corbusier, including an internal ramp connecting the floors and carefully placed concrete sunshades. A subtle manipulation of windows, forms and spaces maximises privacy, openness and cooling breezes while framing a variety of views from the interior. As in much of Le Corbusiers' work, robust site-cast concrete construction belies an intricately detailed interior and a satisfyingly complex overall composition. The house is precisely tuned to prevailing winds and the path of the sun.
The Shodhan family are members of the Jain faith, which teaches the connectedness and value of all living things. Increasingly part of its garden and setting, their house is a statement of their faith as well as Le Corbusier's facility for invention.
Charles Pickett, Curator