On the tracks of Le Corbusier in Paris

A day in Paris | About art | History and heritage
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Le Corbusier's modernist architecture

When talking about Le Corbusier's modernist architecture, you immediately think of the Radiant City in Marseille or the Villa Savoye in Poissy, reachable by the RER A line. But do you know that Paris owns a lot of achievements by this great Swiss-French architect whose real name was Charles-Edouard Jeanneret and that most of them can be visited since they were listed as World Heritage? 

Start with the Villa La Roche, hidden at the end of a quiet blind alley in the 16th district and today belonging, with the neighboring villa Jeanneret, to the Le Corbusier Foundation. Built as of 1923, its purpose was to serve as a showcase for the owner’s collection of modern paintings, and Le Corbusier achieved that by designing an interior architectural walk punctuated by colored walls. What is striking about the interior is the simplicity of the setting (a few pieces of furniture by Charlotte Perriand) and the light. In fact, Le Corbusier applied his theory of the Five Points of Modern Architecture for the first time, among which we note the pilotis (concrete stilts), which support part of the construction, the roof terrace and the strips of ribbon windows that largely illuminate the interior. 

Wiser for this first experience, you will walk to the south of the 16th district and discover Le Corbusier’s own studio apartment, located on the top two floors of a building he began to erect in 1931 and lived in until his death in 1965. Remarkably, the building is entirely glazed on the street, which is a first in the history of architecture. As for the apartment itself, it is bright, with a few colored walls, and functional because it favors space and eliminates corridors and doors. You will appreciate the "Le Corbusier style” that emerges from this bareness and lightness. 

unknown-2-parespritdefrance.jpegStill south of Paris, you will head to the Cité Universitaire in the 14th district to discover the Swiss Pavilion built in1929 and where Le Corbusier tested his principles of collective housing that he applied a little later to the Radiant City. On three floors, there are identical and functional student rooms with their shower and their glass wall on the outside: one of them can be visited, as well as the collective spaces on the ground floor with a large fresco by Le Corbusier on the curved wall, beautiful book shelves and seats by Charlotte Perriand. Before leaving the Cité Universitaire, do not forget to take a look at the nearby Brazilian Pavilion, a large building founded in 1959 by architect Lucio Costa in collaboration with Le Corbusier's workshop. 

And to sustain your curiosity, you must know that the Cité de l’Architecture dedicates a beautiful space to the work of Le Corbusier with a life-size reproduction of the interior of an architectural dwelling unit.