Colour i:Maison La Roche, Le Corbusier & Jeanneret, 1925
In November 2016 we had the pleasure of visiting Maison La Roche, designed by Le Corbusier and his cousin Pierre Jeanneret (now owned by Foundation Le Corbusier). The project was completed in 1925, an L shaped building partly designed for Raoul La Roche, collector of avant garde art – and partly housing for Albert Jeanneret (brother of Le Corbusier).
This is the first installment of our ‘Colour Journal’ which we will add to with colour inspiration from places we visit.
This was the first architectural project that Le Corbusier experimented with a polychromatic colour scheme – using more than one colour. This is not immediately obvious when you step into the entrance hall: a stark pale arena of high ceiling and balconies overlooking.
As you follow the natural path into the La Roche’s gallery, which once housed his collection of cubist paintings, the change of space is denoted by the sudden expanse of colour. The black tiled floor opens up into a light pink, covered by natural light, drawing your eyes into the space, at the light-yellowy-ochre back wall…
Although the exterior of the Villa La Roche reflects the Purist in Le Corbusier – a typical white Modernist building – the interior shows how he was keen to achieve synthesis between art and architecture, drawing on influences from De Stijl theories. Looking at his own artwork from this period it’s clear to see how much they correspond – especially considering that the space was being designed to house paintings.
The deep-earthy-aubergine-brown ramp, an unsuspected colour to see, picked out with dark grey radiators and light blue metal door frames, leads you to the upper floor. Here is Le Corbusier’s theory in effect: the ramp tying the floors together – unlike stairs that would separate them – acts as a viewing platform and a perspective that stairs would not give. It allows the occupant to step back and experience the colours as one.
The polychromatic scheme was employed as a means to suppress or magnify certain architectural volumes. For example, the pale entrance hall continues the flow of white from the exterior as you pass through the front door. The walls are a light natural colour which then act as the backdrop for the other, more intense colours.
According to the Foundation, Le Corbusier employs three colour ranges in this interior, which go on to evolve with later projects. Those ranges are ‘intense’, ‘dynamic’, and ‘transitional’. The library, for example, has a mellower tone with sources of natural light conducive to reading; low ceilings and built in storage that contrasts to the drama of the triple height entrance hall – which could be over looked from the Library balcony.
If ever you’re in Paris, Maison La Roche is well worth the visit. No need to pre-book, just turn up:
10 Square du Dr Blanche,
Original photography by:
Other images taken from:
Le Corbusier Le Grand, Phaidon Press, London, 2014
Le Corbusier et Pierre Jeanneret, Edité par Les édition d’Architecture, Zürich, 1947