by Dušan Cvetković
Dušan Cvetković
Published December 21, 2022

Villa Savoye is one of the most famous buildings from the 20th century, and the most iconic contribution of Le Corbusier to the five points of modern architecture.

In this tutorial, we're going to walk you through the process of modeling Villa Savoye, combining the software possibilities and different techniques, along with our tips and tricks for a more efficient modeling process!

Understanding the Foundations

Start off by setting the base plans and reference image in Rhino. Firstly. when we're working on a project like this, the organization is key. For that reason, we've divided our work into two different layers, 2D and 3D.

This differentiation makes it possible to categorize the lines and the geometries, and switch more easily between them when necessary.

Of course, we need to start from the foundations, so we're going to isolate the ground floor in order to focus on its intricate details.

Understanding the Foundations

Creating the Glass Panels

Once we've laid out a firm foundation, we will continue the modeling process with creating the glass panels. Using the "Array Curve" commands, we'll make glass panels in front of the entrance. This command is amazing, because it allows us to replicate a smaller shape across a curve at a set distance. Repeat the same principle for the opposite side of the building. 

Creating the Glass Panels

Our glass panels need to have a certain thickness, which we can create with the Offset command. This will pull the curve inwards, and then with the second offset we will establish the glass thickness.

Next, we'll extend the curve and using Curve Boolean, we'll create a closed polyline. This polyline we can further extrude into 3D.

Walls and Windows

Creating the walls is a very straightforward process. With Extrude Curve, elevate the walls and in this way achieve the appropriate height. On the other hand, creating the windows is a bit more challenging. Start off by creating rectangles where the windows should be, and then copy and move them around, extruding them to the proper height. This way we'll get voids in the walls where windows should be.

After this, we'll go on to window frames. First off, select the edge of the wall, create a flat surface and then execute the command "Duplicate Border". This will allow us to create an inner closed curve for our window frames and give them the right thickness. 

Creating the Walls and Windows

Creating the Stairway

Stairways are a bit challenging for Villa Savoye, as each step's curve needs to be positioned at the appropriate height. We will create the curved surface by using the Curve Through Points commands.

Creating the Stairway

Creating Glass Walls and Handrails

For the first floor we'll use the same principles we used for the ground floor walls, doors and windows. However, with the outer glass walls we'll be using Grasshopper, since these are larger. Create the surfaces based on divisional lines, and with Grasshopper and its amazing possibities, we're able to control the thickness easily.

Handrails are next, and it's important to note that these require a bit more detailing. We'll duplicate the ramp edge and divide its height into segments, in order to position the steel pipes. Using the Pipe command, we can test the thickness and add some more vertical divisions.


Correcting the Mistakes

We could work and calculate very carefully in the modeling process, but nonetheless, there will be some mistakes that we need to correct.

In our case for instance, we miscalculated the slab thickness when we were creating the ramp and the stairs from curves. In order to get the final handrailings, we used Boolean Split a lot. We needed to make many modifications to achieve proper results. Although it can be a bit tiring, you should see your mistakes as learning opportunities. 

Correcting the Mistakes

Finishing the Model

To finish up the model, we'll add some additional window frames by dividing a curve into segments. We're going to group the window with the new frames and copy these into all the window locations we have. 

Finishing the Model

Final Thoughts

Modeling Villa Savoye is a great practice, as it requires a lot of precision, patience and creativity. With Rhino and Grasshopper as advanced tools, we have the freedom to experiment, manipulate and improve our designs and enhance our architectural visualization.

Additional Resources

If you're interested in learning more about Rhino3D and Grasshopper, we offer a complete 3-hour video tutorial of modeling Villa Savoye in real-time on our How to Rhino Patreon page. This includes all the mistakes made during the modeling process, so you know exactly what to avoid. You'll also be able to download the project files.

In addition, we provide completely free masterclass training on our website that will help you discover and learn the core principles of Rhino, the basic logic behind Grasshopper, and what these tools are capable of in architecture.

Modeling Villa Savoye is not just about creating a 3D model; it's about understanding the principles of modern architecture and the genius of Le Corbusier. So, grab your mouse and keyboard, open Rhino, and start modeling. Happy designing!

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About the Author

Dušan Cvetković is a professional architect from Serbia and official Authorized Rhino Trainer with international experience in the industry. Collaborated with numerous clients all around the world in the field of architecture design, 3D modeling and software education. He's been teaching Rhinoceros3D to thousands of architects through How to Rhino community and various social media channels.