Pilotis are supports that lift a building above the ground or a body of water. They are similar in nature to to stilts, piers, columns, pillars, posts and so on.
In timber form, they were traditionally used in the vernacular architecture of Asia and Scandinavia, or wherever indigenous peoples lived at a water’s edge. They may also be used in hurricane or flood-prone areas, to raise the structure above storm surge levels.
Pilotis are commonly arranged in a regular grid pattern. By providing simple points of support, they ensure that the structure has a minimal impact on the terrain. However, they can also be used in combination with the surrounding landscape, such as trees or rock formations.
The pioneer of modern pilotis was the architect Le Corbusier, who used them both functionally as ground-level supporting columns, and philosophically as a tool for freeing the rigidity of traditional plan layouts, enabling efficient, buildings as 'machines for living'.
His use of pilotis is best-known in Villa Savoye (below), where the architectural volume is lifted, allowing a space for circulation underneath, and giving the building the appearance of lightness and floating above the landscape. Le Corbusier used a variety of pilotis in his buildings, from slender posts to the massive Brutalist forms of the Marseilles Housing Unit.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
Featured articles and news
Eleven Magazine announce the winner and runners-up in their Moontopia competition.
As January is the time for hitting the gym, Designing Buildings Wiki lists the best gym architecture in the world.
London is at the top of the list of global construction megacities, beating Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
What are the innovative business models of the future, and how to incentivise supply chains to work on a whole life basis?
One of the largest churches in the world, the monumental St. Peter's Basilica.
How thermal comfort is quantified and how it can affect wellbeing.
Snøhetta complete a treehouse cabin that allows guests to lie beneath the Northern Lights.
Christiania is an anarchist 'freetown' in Copenhagen where strange and experimental architecture has flourished.
“UK waste data needs improving” say BRE specialists, in this summary of their report into construction waste.
UandI announce new joint venture with US developer to work on office refurbishment projects.
Why buildings crack, how cracks are categorised and what can be done.