Paris and the surrounding area is a great place for fans of Le Corbusier to see his work. Tucked away in the 16th arrondissement, the Maison La Roche is a wonderful example, and of modernist architecture in France. It was designed and built between 1923 and 1925 by Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret and is an experimental house, as was the Villa Savoye that he built after it in 1928. I also found it interesting as it was built for an art collector, specifically to display his collection, as was the Maison Louis Carré, built in 1956 by the Finnish architect Alvar Aalto, which I also visited recently.
Raoul La Roche had an outstanding collection of avant garde art, including works by Picasso, Braque, Leger and Gris. Le Corbusier was his friend, and told him ‘La Roche, someone who has a fine collection like yours needs to build a house worthy of it’. The result was the Maison La Roche and the Maison Jeanneret, two semi-detached houses designed and built for La Roche and for Le Corbusier’s brother Albert.
The Maison La Roche is split into two parts, the public gallery space and the private living space. Built over several floors, both spaces offer a series of perspectives and spectacular viewpoints, both inside and out. Natural light streams in through large windows and glazed areas, the lines of the house are clean and pure, the colours are balanced and chosen specifically to showcase the ‘architectural promenade’ that Le Corbusier wishes us to take through the building. Features seen in other of Le Corbusier’s buildings – such as ramps, lack of doors and interior walls, strip windows, as well as furniture designed with Charlotte Perriand – can be seen here, and as in his other buildings the architecture itself takes the place of any decoration.
A roof garden provides more spectacular views over the neighboring rooftops and provides a beautiful area for outdoor eating, relaxing and sunbathing. The terrace joins with that of the Maison Jeanneret – now home to the Fondation Le Corbusier, housing his archives (paintings, drawings, studies and photos, it can be visited if reserved in advance).
For fans of Le Corbusier, those who enjoy modern architecture, or any of us who like to look at beautiful works of art in any form, the Maison La Roche is not to be missed. Also make sure to make time for a visit to Le Corbusier’s own apartment and studio, which is also in the 16th arrondissement.
Maison La Roche, 10 square du Docteur Blanche, 75016 Paris métro: Jasmin
Open: Monday 13:30 – 18:00, Tuesday-Saturday 10:00 – 18:00