September 18, 2017

A house is a machine to live in

Just like with so many things in France it takes three attempts until whatever it is actually works! Three might be the lucky charm but it can become quite frustrating and tiresome... but that is another post.

Yesterday, taking advantage of the European Heritage Days I headed down to visit the idiosyncratic approach to design of Switzerland's most famous architect Le Corbusier. Not having made a reservation the doorman was reluctant to let me pass, however, after some pleading - explaining how the last two times I wanted to visit this site it was closed to the public - he finally let me through.

Did you know that seventeen projects by Le Corbusier in seven countries were inscribed in the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites as "an Outstanding Contribution to the Modern Movement"?

Le Corbusier did not have formal academic training as an architect. He was attracted to the visual arts and at the age of fifteen he entered the municipal art school in La-Chaux-de-Fonds which taught the applied arts connected with watchmaking.

His most famous maxim, "A house is a machine to live in."

Designed 1923-1925 as a residence for Swiss banker Raoul La Roche, Villa Roche is the quintessence of Le Corbusier’s modern approach to housing. The Villa acted as an exhibition space for Mr. Roche’s collection of avant-garde artwork, and is a pure assemblage of spatial volumes that interlocks the dual programs of domicile and gallery.

The Villa Jeanneret was commissioned by Le Corbusier's brother, Albert Jeanneret, and his fiancée Lotti Raaf. It forms part of a joint project with the connected Villa La Roche - the original scheme involved more houses and more clients, but it was only Jeanneret and La Roche that stayed the course and saw their villas built.

La Roche-Jeanneret house, is a pair of semi-detached houses that was Le Corbusier's third commission in Paris. They are laid out at right angles to each other, with iron, concrete, and blank, white façades setting off a curved two-story gallery space.

The project included a salon, dining room, bedrooms, a study, a kitchen, a maid's room and a garage.

Creating light courts to let in more light

The roof terrace resembles a deck of a ship...

... with a pretty good view.

The museum contains about 8,000 original drawings, studies and plans by Le Corbusier...

... as well as a few pieces of furniture..

... and paintings.

What's left of the kitchen.

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