Interactive

Digitally Deface Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye

'Le Petit Architecte' (courtesy Theo Triantafyllidis)
‘Le Petit Architecte’ (courtesy Theo Triantafyllidis)

Have you ever wanted to throw a piano or screeching cat at Le Corbusier’s pristinely white 1931 Villa Savoye in France? Le Petit Architecte is a building game where you’re a young intern tasked with creating “the absolute architectural masterpiece” to “improve upon Édouard’s design” (the Swiss-French architect was born Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris). Basically, this means hurling ladders, columns, toilets, palm trees, air conditioning units, or whatever dangerous detritus comes your way into an increasingly unstable tower.

Building in 'Le Petit Architect' (GIF by the author via YouTube)
Building in ‘Le Petit Architect’ (GIF by the author via YouTube)

UCLA student Theo Triantafyllidis made the sandbox game, available for free on Itch.io, and recently shared on Kill Screen, for the Decorbuziers exhibition in Athens, Greece. The exhibition, which was held in December, marked the 50th year since Le Corbusier’s death. It’s an odd form of tribute, as you’re basically sneering at the “Five Points of Architecture” (except perhaps the love of supporting pillars), and building a grotesque deformity next to one of 20th-century architecture’s arguable masterpieces. The game is more Katamari Damacy than modernist in its accumulation of increasingly bizarre objects, each with its own sound effect, into an unwieldy glob, which eventually shakes, shudders, and collapses into a tornado of debris. Le Petit Architecte also embraces its glitches; I found myself uncontrollably walking backwards while vaulting pianos into the distance until I fell backwards over an abyss, looking up at the Villa Savoye as I tumbled into oblivion.

Considering Le Corbusier’s work went into the public domain this year (in countries where copyright ends 50 years after death, so not the United States), it will be interesting to see if other creators experiment with his architectural legacy. Le Petit Architecte is a fairly simple game — create chaos in the face of modernist serenity. Yet it’s an enjoyably absurd diversion, and provides some digital retribution perhaps for those of us who still cringe over Le Corbusier’s mural defacement of Eileen Gray’s E.1027.

Building a tower in 'Le Petit Architecte' (screenshot by the author for Hyperallergic)
Building a tower in ‘Le Petit Architecte’ (screenshot by the author for Hyperallergic)

Le Petit Architecte is available to play free on Itch.io.

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