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At home with Le Corbusier

A trio of buildings designed for himself, his parents and a friend show the iconic architecture of Le Corbusier in a particularly intimate light.

  • La Roche’s bedroom, (‘the purist bedroom’), photo Fred Boissonnas ©FLC/ADAGP
  • Dining room, photo by Olivier Martin-Gambier © FLC/ADAGP
  • Footbridge leading to the public spaces, photo Olivier Martin-Gambier © FLC/ADAGP
  • Hall and footbridge, photo Olivier Martin-Gambier © FLC/ADAGP
  • Art gallery, photo Olivier Martin-Gambier © FLC/ADAGP
  • Art gallery, photo Olivier Martin-Gambier © FLC/ADAGP
  • La Roche and Jeanneret Houses, photo Charles Gérard, 1925 © FLC/ADAGP
  • La Roche and Jeanneret Houses, photo Charles Gérard, 1927 © FLC/ADAGP
  • Raoul La Roche in the art gallery, 1930 © FLC/ADAGP
  • Villas La Roche-Jeanneret, first plan: perspective sketch plan
  • La Roche’s bedroom, (‘the purist bedroom’), photo Fred Boissonnas ©FLC/ADAGP
  • Dining room, photo by Olivier Martin-Gambier © FLC/ADAGP
  • Footbridge leading to the public spaces, photo Olivier Martin-Gambier © FLC/ADAGP
  • Hall and footbridge, photo Olivier Martin-Gambier © FLC/ADAGP
  • Art gallery, photo Olivier Martin-Gambier © FLC/ADAGP
  • Art gallery, photo Olivier Martin-Gambier © FLC/ADAGP
  • La Roche and Jeanneret Houses, photo Charles Gérard, 1925 © FLC/ADAGP
  • La Roche and Jeanneret Houses, photo Charles Gérard, 1927 © FLC/ADAGP
  • Raoul La Roche in the art gallery, 1930 © FLC/ADAGP
  • Villas La Roche-Jeanneret, first plan: perspective sketch plan

La Roche House, Paris (1923-1925)

In 1918, Raoul La Roche met Charles-Edouard Jeanneret, the future Le Corbusier (he would not adopt the pseudonym until 1920). La Roche went on to build up a significant collection of Cubist and Purist works (by Picasso, Braque, Fernand Léger and Juan Gris) from 1921 on. Around this time, La Roche commissioned a home-cum-gallery from his friend the architect, to both display his art collection and serve as his principal residence. Constructed between 1923 and 1925 by Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret, his cousin and associate, the La Roche House represents an exceptional architectural undertaking. Its originality lies in its unification of two different spaces, art gallery and private apartments, each serving a different function. From 1925 to 1933, numerous architects, writers, artists, and collectors came to visit this experimental home, leaving their mark by signing the visitor's book, which was kept open in the entrance hall.
The use of new construction materials allowed Le Corbusier to put into practice here what he would define in 1927 as the ‘five points for a new architecture’: the open facade, the open plan, the long horizontal window, the roof garden, and the pilotis.
The La Roche House, as well as the adjacent Jeanneret House, are representative of the ideas that Le Corbusier explored in the 1920s. Devoid of ornamentation and composed of simple, geometric forms, they are the fruit of a new architectural language. In their outright defiance of the academic aesthetic tradition, they join the ranks of the modernist movement.
The La Roche and Jeanneret Houses were classified as historical monuments in 1996. Since 1970, they have undergone several restoration campaigns. The interiors of the La Roche have been entirely restored in 2009. The facades and the exteriors of both houses have been restored in 2014. The Le Corbusier Foundation ensures their conservation and organizes exhibitions and tours in the La Roche House.

  • Staircase leading to the roof garden, photo Olivier Martin-Gambier ©FLC/ADAGP
  • Corner with chimney / Living room, photo Olivier Martin-Gambier ©FLC/ADAGP
  • Painting studio, rue Nungesser et Coli, photo Olivier Martin-Gambier ©FLC/ADAGP
  • Le Corbusier in his studio on rue Nungesser et Coli ©FLC/ADAGP
  • Le Corbusier in his studio on rue Nungesser et Coli ©FLC/ADAGP
  • Façade on rue Nungesser et Coli, photo Olivier Martin-Gambier ©FLC/ADAGP
  • Staircase leading to the roof garden, photo Olivier Martin-Gambier ©FLC/ADAGP
  • Corner with chimney / Living room, photo Olivier Martin-Gambier ©FLC/ADAGP
  • Painting studio, rue Nungesser et Coli, photo Olivier Martin-Gambier ©FLC/ADAGP
  • Le Corbusier in his studio on rue Nungesser et Coli ©FLC/ADAGP
  • Le Corbusier in his studio on rue Nungesser et Coli ©FLC/ADAGP
  • Façade on rue Nungesser et Coli, photo Olivier Martin-Gambier ©FLC/ADAGP

Le Corbusier’s Studio Apartment, Paris (1931-1934)

Le Corbusier’s studio apartment occupies the top two floors of the Molitor apartment block, located at 24, rue Nungesser et Coli. Designed between 1931 and 1934 by Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret, the building, called 24 N.C., is situated in the 16th arrondissement on the border between Paris and Boulogne. Due to its east-west orientation and its exceptional surroundings, it fits what Le Corbusier termed ‘the conditions of the radiant city’. As a project for a rental building, it offered the architect the opportunity to test the validity of his urban proposals. Given that there were no structures opposite, he could build façades entirely filled with windows, thereby constructing the first residential apartment made of glass in architectural history. Bathed in light, Le Corbusier’s personal apartment spans the length of the top floor and also houses his painting studio. Its dimensions are roughly 240 m2, divided between two levels linked by an interior staircase. Large, pivoting wooden doors open and close to form various spatial configurations in the apartment. When Le Corbusier received guests, he could direct his visitors either toward the painting studio or the reception spaces simply by closing one of the doors.
Le Corbusier delegated the furnishings to interior designer Charlotte Perriand, who worked in his and Pierre Jeanneret’s studio at the time and designed many of the interior pieces.
The architect lived in the apartment from 1934 until his death in 1965. It was classified as a historical monument in 1972, and the façades facing the streets, the courtyard, the roof, and the entrance hall were also inscribed as such in 1990. Significant restoration works are planned in 2017. This restoration campaign concerns all the studio apartment and roofs coverings (roof-terrace, vaults and balconies). The work is accompanied by a thought on museography and presentation of Le Corbusier’s working environment and living space.

  • Villa ‘Le Lac’, photo Olivier Martin-Gambier ©FLC/ADAGP
  • Villa ‘Le Lac’, photo Olivier Martin-Gambier ©FLC/ADAGP
  • Interior of Villa ‘Le Lac’, photo Olivier Martin-Gambier ©FLC/ADAGP
  • Interior of Villa ‘Le Lac’, photo Olivier Martin-Gambier ©FLC/ADAGP
  • View from Lake Léman onto the Villa, photo Olivier Martin-Gambier ©FLC/ADAGP
  • Le Corbusier with his brother Albert and their mother in Villa Le Lac, photo Yves Debraine, 1959 ©FLC/ADAGP
  • Le Corbusier, Sketch of Villa Le Lac ©FLC/ADAGP
  • Le Corbusier, Sketch of Villa Le Lac ©FLC/ADAGP
  • Le Corbusier, Sketch of Villa Le Lac ©FLC/ADAGP
  • Villa ‘Le Lac’, photo Olivier Martin-Gambier ©FLC/ADAGP
  • Villa ‘Le Lac’, photo Olivier Martin-Gambier ©FLC/ADAGP
  • Interior of Villa ‘Le Lac’, photo Olivier Martin-Gambier ©FLC/ADAGP
  • Interior of Villa ‘Le Lac’, photo Olivier Martin-Gambier ©FLC/ADAGP
  • View from Lake Léman onto the Villa, photo Olivier Martin-Gambier ©FLC/ADAGP
  • Le Corbusier with his brother Albert and their mother in Villa Le Lac, photo Yves Debraine, 1959 ©FLC/ADAGP
  • Le Corbusier, Sketch of Villa Le Lac ©FLC/ADAGP
  • Le Corbusier, Sketch of Villa Le Lac ©FLC/ADAGP
  • Le Corbusier, Sketch of Villa Le Lac ©FLC/ADAGP

Villa Le Lac, Corseaux, Switzerland (1923-1924)

Designed for Le Corbusier’s parents, Villa Le Lac was constructed between 1923 and 1924 from plans drawn up by Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret. The first example of modern architecture executed by Le Corbusier in his native Switzerland, Villa Le Lac (the humblest of the Purist houses) foreshadowed three of the ‘five points for a new architecture’ he later pioneered: the roof terrace or garden (manifested here for the first time), the open plan and the ribbon window. A Purist house and true ‘machine for living’, the Villa marks a decisive stage in Le Corbusier’s career and prefigures Villa Savoye, a masterpiece of 20th-century architecture.
In 1962, Villa Le Lac was listed in the Swiss Inventory of Cultural Property. In 1971, ownership of the property was officially handed over to the Le Corbusier Foundation.
In 1984 the building was opened to the viewing public, being awarded museum status in 2010. Villa Le Lac regularly presents exhibitions linked to the work of Le Corbusier, as well as to the world of architecture more generally.
The Le Corbusier Foundation has launched a huge restoration project for the house with support from the Villa Le Lac Le Corbusier Association. The restoration works were focused on the exteriors: the wall on the road, the facades and the garden. Also planned is a restoration of the interiors.
Notwithstanding its need for renovation, the house, as it stands today, remains true to the original plan with few exceptions. Like La Roche House and the apartment Le Corbusier built for himself, Villa Le Lac was quite a personal commission, yet one that marks a major step in the development of his architecture.

By Fondation Le Corbusier
Publication date 21 July 2016