Permanent Delegation of Argentina to Unesco
Province of Buenos Aires
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Casa Curutchet is the only house and one of the two buildings in the Americas constructed according to a project by Le Corbusier, one of the leading architects of the Modern Movement in architecture. The project was commissioned in 1948 by Dr. Pedro Curutchet, an Argentine surgeon who asked the architect to locate in a quite small urban plot both family house and working area taking advantage of the possibility of enjoying sunning and the views to a nearby square and park.
Le Corbusier never met Dr. Curutchet or either visited the site. He sent a set of plans in 1949 together with a list of local architects who could direct the works. Amancio Williams, one of the most prominent Argentine modern architects, was in charge of elaborating the final plans and started the works that ended by 1953.
The project was organized in two separate blocks: working area and family house. The former is located in the first floor in coincidence with the front line of the plot, over a ground floor practically free, containing a garage and services functions. The family house is located at the rear part of the plot and over the working area, so that both sectors enjoy views to the street and park and sunning. Linking both areas, a ramp allows the "promenade architecturale" allowing a sequential perception of spaces. The living area opens to a terrace formed by the roof of the working sector, enjoying views to the next green spaces.
Practically all Le Corbusier's architectural principles were employed , such as the independent structure (pilotis), the free plan, the free façade, the dematerialization of facades trough glass panels, the brise-soleil and the garden terrace. In this sense, the building is a complete example of Le Corbusier architecture, in this case adapted to a tiny urban plot and to a determined urban location.
Déclarations d’authenticité et/ou d’intégrité
Once the final plans were approved by Le Corbusier and the house constructed, no changes were introduced, so that the current situation of the building is exactly the same of the time of inauguration.
Even if the house was inhabited by Curutchet family during a quite short period, no original parts were removed or altered. The building belongs currently to Dr. Curutchet heirs; the locator, the Union of Architects of the Province of Buenos Aires, uses the building for cultural activities, including small groups' visits.
In this sense, the building meets the test of authenticity/ integrity in design, materials and workmanship. Concerning setting, the two neighboring buildings remain without noticeable alterations and are protected at local level. Some changes occurred in the surroundings, considering that the building is located in La Plata central area, but the persistence of the main features of the setting (streets and avenues, square and park, neighboring buildings) allows to state that authenticity of setting is still noticeable.
Comparaison avec d’autres biens similaires
The proposal of including Curutchet house in Argentina Tentative List is intended to include the property in the nomination of the constructed works by Le Corbusier to the World Heritage List. As a whole, the constructed work by Le Corbusier in not matched by any other architect of the 20th Century and his influence in modern architecture and urbanism reached extremely diverse regions of the world.
In the framework of the work of Le Corbusier, Casa Curutchet represents an important landmark, because it is the only house in the Americas and an outstanding example of the application of Le Corbusier architectural principles to a small urban plot and of the adaptation to the conditions of the site.
Modern houses inscribed on the World Heritage List include Schroeder Huis (Gerrit Rietveld), Tugendhat House (Ludwig Mies van der Rohe) and Luis Barragán house and studio. Tugendhat house is located in a quite large urban plot that allowed Mies van de Rohe to develop an extended villa opening to a generous garden viewing the city of Brno. Rietveld's house, located in a corner plot of the city of Utrecht, rests on one partition wall but conserves three sides free, something that allowed the architect a composition of free plan that constitute the main feature of the De Stijl movement. It is noticeable the opposition between the expression and size of the building end the neighboring buildings. Barragán's house is located in an urban plot defined by partition walls; as it is the result between the combination of international modern principles and local traditional features, the façade is stressed by a plain massive plan, even if continuity of interior spaces is more related to modernism.
If compared with the above mentioned examples, Curutchet house shares some features (free plan, spatial continuity, modernist expression) but at the same time has its own characteristics, mainly the links established by Le Corbusier between the building and the neighboring ones and the fact that the smallness of the plot implied a tour-de-force to achieve the possibility of opening the whole building to the street and neighboring square.