Happy Anniversary

IMG_59182015 marks the 50th anniversary of Le Corbusier’s death and the country is honoring him with a retrospective at the Centre Pompidou. The celebrations have included an effective social media campaign with tweets that led me to the discovery of the Villa Savoye, a private home Le Corbusier built in Poissy, a short drive from Paris. It is not often I come across a place I have never heard of in the area, so I simply had to go.

Mr French is in China, so I borrowed his car and made my way around the Arc de Triomphe (insanity… utter crazyness!!!) and took the A14 to this suburban town that was once a rural retreat for city rats, like Claude Monet who painted several landscapes of the city before the auto industry moved in, turning it in to France’s Detroit, without the bankruptcy.

IMG_5911The entrance is a discrete metal gate. So discrete, I drove by twice despite the aid of the car and iPhone’s gps systems. The neighboring parking lot was full of young teens on lunch break from Le Corbusier High School. The boys were kicking around a football (that’s soccer to my Star Spangled readers) and the girls giggling away.

Beyond the gate, down a gravel pathway, the sides grew dense and dark with trees, as the temperature dropped dramatically. A second later I was facing a large open clearing, the estate-ly lawn adorned with baby daisies as if fairies had passed in the night. The white rectangle in the middle looked lost, and somewhat out of place.

IMG_5908Le Cobusier was a Modernist architect. Their principals of building were:

1// function was the key concern

2// the design had to be logical

3// the form had to be strong, cutting itself from the past with its simplicity

Today guests arrive at the Ville Savoye from the back. Circling the building, the visitor arrives at a semi-circular glass wall, an invitation that brings the outside in. The interior is flooded with light. Large windows dominate every room on every floor, framing the gardens beyond with outdoor rooms that made them part of the decor.

IMG_5895At first I was not impressed. Modern architecture is not so new anymore and I was disappointed in the collection of squares and rectangles. But I was not putting this building in perspective. There were closets, something you won’t find in Haussmann’s Parisian flats and the kitchen was a dream with two sink areas, lots of counter space and cupboards that opened from the kitchen or dining area sides. It is a home made for living. The site is an artist’s dream. An dancer was exploring an open space of the terrasse, visually demonstrating the Golden rule to a high school class, a Japanese photographer was working with a tripod and a German couple was sketching details into their notepads. Inspiration was in the air.

  1. OK, Sylvia, you’ve convinced me to go to the Le Corbusier exhibition at Pompidou. Sounds like you had a lovely day in Poissy!

    • The Le Corbusier exhibition at Pompidou is excellent. You learn alot about architecture and it’s relationship with art and nature. He did some great stuff, but also got a lot wrong.

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