Casa Curutchet, Le Corbusier’s Only Work in Latin America, Stands in Argentina

Casa Curutchet residential building designed by Le Corbusier in La Plata, Argentina, has demonstrated remarkable architectural innovation and adaptation since its completion. The only project by Le Corbusier in Latin America, it was realized through detailed correspondence with Argentine architect Amancio Williams and client Dr. Pedro Domingo Curutchet. The design separates professional and living spaces into two volumes connected by a ramp and interior patio, embodying Le Corbusier’s five points of new architecture. In 2016, Casa Curutchet was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site for its contribution to the Modern Movement. Today, it operates as a museum, providing insight into mid-20th-century architectural challenges and solutions.

Le corbusier built only one work in latin america, located in argentina. - © ana centeno

The story of Casa Curutchet, designed by Le Corbusier, continues to impress architects. This Swiss-French architect’s only work in Latin America is located in La Plata, Argentina, and was constructed with him miles away. This was made possible through a constant exchange of letters between Le Corbusier, Argentine architect Amancio Williams, who realized the project on-site, and Dr. Pedro Domingo Curutchet, the client.

It all began with a letter from Dr. Curutchet to Le Corbusier, explaining that due to the characteristics of the narrow plot—approximately 160 square meters and flanked by three houses—he doubted his requirements could fit into a single house overlooking Plaza Rivadavia. Le Corbusier, intrigued by the challenge, accepted it immediately, working on it concurrently with one of his most recognized projects, the Unité d’Habitation in Marseille.

The curutchet house exemplifies le corbusier's post-world war ii work. Courtesy unesco.

The commission’s complexity lay in accommodating Curutchet’s professional and family life, with a consulting room and communal spaces for his wife and two daughters. After several letters, Le Corbusier proposed separating the house into two volumes connected by a ramp and an interior patio to allow cross ventilation, cooling the residence. One volume served as the consulting room facing the street, and the other as the living area oriented towards the patio, providing greater privacy.

The poplar, planted in 1956, loses its leaves in winter to let in light and fills with leaves in summer to block the sun. © ana centeno.

Casa Curutchet embodies Le Corbusier’s five points of new architecture (free façade, pilotis, open floor plan, rooftop garden, and human-centered design), adapted to a small plot. This adaptation makes it a subject of fascination and study for various generations of architects.

“Le Corbusier addressed spatial challenges with structural solutions. He did not load the weight on the walls but on concrete pillars, granting significant freedom in design. This system revolutionized 20th-century architecture, and Le Corbusier was one of its great exponents,” explains architect Joaquín López, a guide at Casa Curutchet.

Le Corbusier sent 16 plans and recommended several architects to bring this project to life from afar. Among them was Argentine architect Amancio Williams, who had gained international recognition for the “Casa sobre el Arroyo” project, designed with Delfina Gálvez Bunge in Mar del Plata.

“Amancio was the key,” says López, standing in the middle of Casa Curutchet. “He was very meticulous and detailed. Of the 16 plans sent by Le Corbusier, Amancio produced over 100.” Williams valued the project so much that he worked ad honorem, only charging if the work was not completed. His contributions included rotating the staircase 180 degrees, replacing access walls with glass, and securing permission to build according to Le Corbusier’s measurement system, “the Modulor.”

During the construction, hundreds of letters exchanged between South America and Europe contained questions, suggestions, and observations from Dr. Curutchet, Amancio, and Le Corbusier. The final letter in this decade-long correspondence was sent in 1956, with photos of the completed house. “I know this work will stand as a lesson in contemporary art,” wrote Curutchet upon seeing the finished project.

In 2016, thanks to an international effort by Germany, Argentina, Belgium, France, India, Japan, and Switzerland, 17 of Le Corbusier’s works, including Casa Curutchet, were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List for their exceptional contributions to the Modern Movement.

Though still owned by Dr. Curutchet’s family, the property has been leased to the Colegio de Arquitectos de la Provincia de Buenos Aires for over 20 years. Today, Casa Curutchet is a museum open for tours, offering a must-see experience just an hour from Argentina’s capital.

Casa curutchet, le corbusier’s only work in latin america, stands in argentina - © antonia cordero
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