written by:
photos by:
July 13, 2010

Nestled in a leafy alleyway in Paris's famous 16th arrondissement, Villa La Roche is a prime reflection of modernist architecture in France.  Built between 1923 and 1925 by Le Corbusier, it stands as an experiment in linking two distinct programs, intertwining both art gallery and home.
 

The task was to build both a house for Raoul Albert La Roche, a Swiss banker and his family, as well as an art gallery for La Roche's vast collection.  I admired the way that Corbusier cleverly split up the functions of the building into two distinct volu
The task was to build both a house for Raoul Albert La Roche, a Swiss banker and his family, as well as an art gallery for La Roche's vast collection. I admired the way that Corbusier cleverly split up the functions of the building into two distinct volumes: a public gallery and a private domain, all on a cramped plot of land.
Photo by 
1 / 14
The use of height in the main hall drew our heads up and effectively expresses the three levels of the house—which is further exemplified by the left wall as a literal cross-section. This space also serves as the center point of two circulation paths that
The use of height in the main hall drew our heads up and effectively expresses the three levels of the house—which is further exemplified by the left wall as a literal cross-section. This space also serves as the center point of two circulation paths that travel to opposite sides of the building. 
Photo by 
2 / 14
The gallery is the main space in the Villa La Roche, and is dominated by a sweeping curved ramp, flush against the hollow of the facade—Corbusier's way of playing with alternating straight and curved lines.
The gallery is the main space in the Villa La Roche, and is dominated by a sweeping curved ramp, flush against the hollow of the facade—Corbusier's way of playing with alternating straight and curved lines.
Photo by 
3 / 14
Contrasting from the vertical height of the main entry hall, the horizontal expanse of the gallery provides ample space for La Roche's paintings and many Corbusier-designed pieces of furniture. 
Contrasting from the vertical height of the main entry hall, the horizontal expanse of the gallery provides ample space for La Roche's paintings and many Corbusier-designed pieces of furniture. 
Photo by 
4 / 14
There are no direct exterior views, but large amounts of daylighting are allowed to stream in from the strips of windows at the top. 
There are no direct exterior views, but large amounts of daylighting are allowed to stream in from the strips of windows at the top. 
Photo by 
5 / 14
The concept of an 'architectural promenade' remains steady throughout the circulation of the building, leading one through a spatial processional as the plan unfolds.
The concept of an 'architectural promenade' remains steady throughout the circulation of the building, leading one through a spatial processional as the plan unfolds.
Photo by 
6 / 14
Natural lighting was always a significant part of Corbusier's intention. A large glass hallway runs along the bridge that joins the two separate sides of the house.
Natural lighting was always a significant part of Corbusier's intention. A large glass hallway runs along the bridge that joins the two separate sides of the house.
Photo by 
7 / 14
Corbusier's experimentation with color makes a bold statement in the dining room - the black tile floor, burnt sienna walls and ceilings, umber woodwork, and white windowsill.
Corbusier's experimentation with color makes a bold statement in the dining room - the black tile floor, burnt sienna walls and ceilings, umber woodwork, and white windowsill.
Photo by 
8 / 14
Spartan and stream-lined, the confinement of the private spaces (the bathroom, bedrooms) conjure a purist, monastic feeling.
Spartan and stream-lined, the confinement of the private spaces (the bathroom, bedrooms) conjure a purist, monastic feeling.
Photo by 
9 / 14
The villa sits hidden at the end of a cul-de-sac, le square du Docteur Blanche, amidst a street of other modernist apartments, and is also the current home of the <a href="http://www.fondationlecorbusier.fr/corbuweb/morpheus.aspx?sysLanguage=fr-fr&sysId=2
The villa sits hidden at the end of a cul-de-sac, le square du Docteur Blanche, amidst a street of other modernist apartments, and is also the current home of the Foundation Le Corbusier. At the end of Docteur Blanche stands an apartment by Robert Mallet-Stevens, one of Corbusier's contemporaries and another influential figure in the development of French modernist architecture.
Photo by 
10 / 14
The house was built upon a challenging urban site, as it is north-facing, surrounded by apartment buildings on all sides, and subject to many neighborhood regulations. (Which are probably dotted with numerous cries of 'C'est impossible!', as I can imagine
The house was built upon a challenging urban site, as it is north-facing, surrounded by apartment buildings on all sides, and subject to many neighborhood regulations. (Which are probably dotted with numerous cries of 'C'est impossible!', as I can imagine.)
Photo by 
11 / 14
Although currently without access, the rooftop garden was an economical way of using valuable space for relaxation. Concrete flagstones, sliding metal screens, and plant tubs populate this prime sunbathing location.
Although currently without access, the rooftop garden was an economical way of using valuable space for relaxation. Concrete flagstones, sliding metal screens, and plant tubs populate this prime sunbathing location.
Photo by 
12 / 14
The treatment of interiors in the house consists of monochrome for the entry hall, but polychrome for many of the other spaces.  Here, we see use of deep ultramarine, red brown, and light sienna as we look from the third floor bedroom doorway through the
The treatment of interiors in the house consists of monochrome for the entry hall, but polychrome for many of the other spaces.  Here, we see use of deep ultramarine, red brown, and light sienna as we look from the third floor bedroom doorway through the main hall and across to the library.
Photo by 
13 / 14
Aligning with his famous five points, Corbusier lifted the villa off the ground, supporting it by reinforced concrete pilotis.  An open plan, free facade, strip windows, and a rooftop garden were the other four tenets, which is most famously manifested in
Aligning with his famous five points, Corbusier lifted the villa off the ground, supporting it by reinforced concrete pilotis.  An open plan, free facade, strip windows, and a rooftop garden were the other four tenets, which is most famously manifested in his Villa Savoye, a quick train ride away on the RER to nearby Poissy.
Photo by 
14 / 14
The task was to build both a house for Raoul Albert La Roche, a Swiss banker and his family, as well as an art gallery for La Roche's vast collection.  I admired the way that Corbusier cleverly split up the functions of the building into two distinct volu
The task was to build both a house for Raoul Albert La Roche, a Swiss banker and his family, as well as an art gallery for La Roche's vast collection. I admired the way that Corbusier cleverly split up the functions of the building into two distinct volumes: a public gallery and a private domain, all on a cramped plot of land.
Architect 

Join the Discussion

Loading comments...

Latest Articles

sardenya lr 7
A renovation brings light and order to a Spanish flat, maintaining its standout ceilings.
May 25, 2016
pow 5 25 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
May 25, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent thom fougere winnipeg canada cthom fougere studio thom fougere saddle chair 2
Designer Thom Fougere plays with scale and typology to create playful furniture.
May 25, 2016
prs my16 0067 v001 1
In the worlds of architecture and design, we’re always looking for the best ways of supporting sustainable building practices. This awareness doesn’t have to stop at our driveways but rather, it can extend to the cars we choose to take us to the places we go each day. With Toyota’s 2016 Prius, the daily task of getting from point A to point B can now be experienced with a new level of efficiency, safety, and style.
May 25, 2016
mountfordarchitects western australia
On a narrow site in Western Australia, Mountford Architects makes the most of a tight spot—with an eye to the future.
May 25, 2016
San Francisco living room with Wassily chairs
Materials and furniture transformed the layout of this San Francisco house, without the need for dramatic structural intervention.
May 24, 2016
shiver me timbers tallow wood kitchen
A pair of married architects put their exacting taste to work on their own family escape in the Australian bush.
May 24, 2016
in the balance small space massachusetts cantilevered cabin glass facade
When nature laid down a boulder of a design challenge in the Massachusetts mountains, an architect’s solution elevated the project to new heights.
May 24, 2016
Wooden Walkways
A home in Ontario, Canada, demonstrates how factory-built housing can be as site sensitive as traditional construction.
May 24, 2016
15 icff 5
From Corian furniture to immersive installations, here are some of our favorite designs we saw at the 2016 shows.
May 24, 2016
gpphoto44
A home and community celebrate natural remove in unison.
May 24, 2016
With our annual issue devoted to the outdoors on newsstands, we did a lap of Instagram for some extra inspiration.
May 23, 2016
forest for the trees english prefab mobile home facade chesnut cladding
On the edge of a historic park in an English shire, a prefabricated home sets a new design standard.
May 23, 2016
tread lightly australia
A family home on Australia’s Mornington Peninsula is built to blend in with its lakeside setting.
May 23, 2016
jardins party dining room hay chairs local wood floor
A pair of architects help a client carve out an oasis of calm amid São Paulo’s bustle.
May 23, 2016
hwm6zf 1
No matter where you're located or what time of the year it is, having a fireplace in your home is a treasure that’s continuously sought after. Besides the obvious benefits of keeping a fire going through the cold winter months, it can also be a cherished asset that provides an extra level of year-round comfort—not to mention how it can help define the layout of a space by acting as a sculptural element.
May 23, 2016
An office Crosby Studios designed for NGRS in Moscow
Crosby Studios just cares about the essentials.
May 22, 2016
cold sweat seattle floating sauna gocstudio
A cadre of designers let off steam after hours by building and sailing a seaworthy sauna.
May 22, 2016
in the swim off the grid campsite healdsburg california swimming pool solar heat lap pool ipe deck loll designs lounge chairs
An off-the-grid house that is little more than a decked campsite—albeit with a roof—includes a swimming pool for a family that loves to enjoy the elements.
May 21, 2016
A print by Kristina Krogh
From flat to physical, Kristina Krogh masters every dimension.
May 21, 2016
scifi
Every week, we highlight one amazing Dwell home that went viral on Pinterest. Follow Dwell's Pinterest account for more daily design inspiration.
May 21, 2016
beverly hills living room piano view
Architect Noah Walker, principal of Los Angeles–based studio Walker Workshop, shares completed and work-in-progress residential designs on his Instagram page (@noah_walker). Take a peek at some of the striking modern houses here, and tour the Venice House on the Dwell Home Tours on June 26.
May 20, 2016
ripple effect san fancisco small space yard outdoor monica viarengo pebble mosiac artificial turf slide
A San Francisco landscape designer finds a small-space solution that’s anything but narrow-minded.
May 20, 2016
Oslo living room with light wood floors and wood slab table
A pair of designers in Oslo, armed with tricks for introducing color and daylight, remake their compact late-19th-century apartment.
May 20, 2016
family affair backyard addition portrait
In coastal Massachusetts, a resourceful couple and their equally enterprising children use reclaimed materials to create a versatile 168-square-foot backyard building.
May 20, 2016
speed machine australian beachside prefab archiblox facade colorbond ultra steel cladding queensland blue gum wood
With little time to waste, an Australian firm erects an efficient prefab overlooking the ocean.
May 20, 2016
Christian Benimana at Design Indaba
When he was younger, there wasn't a single architecture school in his country. Now, as part of MASS Design Group, Christian Benimana shares how architecture can heal and inspire Africa.
May 19, 2016
01 1
This Italian villa is serenity incarnate.
May 19, 2016
michael cobb interior
Alternative materials help a house in California’s wine country tread lightly on the land.
May 18, 2016
13266797 1799532953608317 1984666518 n 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
May 18, 2016