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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.
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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. 
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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.
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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. 
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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. 
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.)
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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