Le Corbusier + Pierre Jeanneret (1922-25)
It can be taken for granted today how easily we can manipulate form and space, but almost 100 years earlier Le Corbusier was beginning to explore the ‘plastic’ and malleable nature of space through new methods of (mainly concrete) construction. Piloti, concrete slabs, shifting grids, plans and points of view, large openings and strip windows were all very new when this building was designed and built. Added to that here were the site constraints related to setbacks and privacy, so skylights, internal atria, roof terraces and highlight windows were introduced, resulting in light-filled spaces of expanded perception.
Thankfully this incredible building is open to the public, and a visit to this building will be a lesson in spatial manipulation and architecture as ‘experience’. There is the triple-height entry space with a stair landing that mirrors the landing of the balcony on the curved street facade, and the curved interior space of the gallery designed to show off the owners artworks with wonderful highlight windows that also extend the views out without compromising privacy. If you’re lucky the gallery may now house some of Corbusier’s artworks, if they’re not on loan to an exhibition somewhere else around the world. The spatial experience, the materials, details and use of colour (not just white) will be a great lesson to all who visit.
Maison La Roche was designed and built together with Pierre Jeanneret’s own home – the two buildings attached and reading as if they were one. The Jeanneret House now houses the offices of the Corbusier Foundation and the Corbusier archive which can also be visited with prior appointment
There is a great Le Corbusier Guide by Deborah Gans first published in 1987 that provides excellent information on finding Corbusier buildings. It now appears to be out of print, but if you hunt around it you may find a second-hand or electronic copy.
Place: Maison La Roche
Photographer: Stephen Varady (scans from slides)
Map: Maison La Roche Map
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