Villa “Le Lac” Le Corbusier opens its doors for Spring 2018
“You employ stone, wood and concrete, and with these materials you build houses and palaces. That is construction. Ingenuity is at work. But suddenly you touch my heart, you do me good, I am happy and I say: This is beautiful. That is Architecture. Art enters in.” Le Corbusier ‘Towards a New Architecture’ (1927).
A small house on the eastern shoreline of Lake Geneva is radiating colour: light cerulean, ultramarine, medium red ochre, red vermillion, burnt sienna. It’s the home built by Le Corbusier, pioneer of Modern Architecture and his cousin Pierre Jeanneret for Le Corbusier’s parents in 1923-24. Standing between path and lake, the small plot of land was chosen by Le Corbusier on which to build a “machine for living”, and is a manifestation of the design ideas for which he and Jeanneret were already known. Inventively-designed and with an eye on the future architectural world stage, learning from this personal work contributed to the success of Le Corbusier’s villas from the 1920s onwards including the iconic Villa Savoye in Poissy, France, considered to be a masterpiece of modern 20th century architecture.
© oneARTlover / FLC / ProLitteris, 2017
Built from concrete, the rectangular 16m by 4m Villa affirms three of the five architectural principles set out by Le Corbusier in his 1923 architectural manifesto ‘Vers une architecture’ or ‘Towards a New Architecture’: the roof garden providing additional recreational, entertaining and outside living space, the horizontal ‘ribbon’ window bisecting the lakeside façade lengthways and oriented due south allowing maximum daylight into the interior spaces and open plan living made possible by the reinforced concrete structure.
Wandering through the Villa’s open rooms, one senses its erstwhile atmosphere and reassuringly, despite several modifications over the years, not much appears to have changed since the house was occupied. While Le Corbusier’s father Georges Edouard Jeanneret only lived there for one year, his mother Marie Charlotte Amélie Jeanneret-Perret remained in the house until her passing in her 100th year in 1960 and his musician brother, Albert Jeanneret, lived there alone until 1973. It’s easy to imagine a hub of creativity and of M and Mme Jeanneret living amongst simple pleasures, watching wild waves through rainy window panes or catching the Léman sunset from this little house ‘designed for two’.
Carefully-considered areas enable modest but comfortable living and the inventive relationship between house and garden exploits its natural lakeside position. Though the overall plot size is small, the visitor feels an infinite sense of space as the garden becomes an extension of the indoor quarters, providing a tangible link to the lake and mountains beyond. Add in the roof terrace and one truly gains a sense of expansive, multidirectional living.
Back indoors and each space reveals something original; a low, built-in wardrobe dug 40cm below the floor in order to accommodate a cupboard on the reverse side of the wall, a tiny bedroom desk on a platform positioned at just the right height as to give a perfect view of the lake and landscape, moveable partitions and disappearing beds, space-saving shelves, and in the garden a picture-window carved out of an exterior wall and a small concrete kennel for a dog! Throughout the Villa’s interior, parts of the wall surface are pared back revealing time painted into the fabric of the house, historical colour swatches with each layer retreating further into the past, and a witness to the life lived in this home. Perhaps, if one were to put their ear to the wall, they might hear Mme Jeanneret-Perret and her music students playing the piano.
Planted in the central lawn stands a symbolic Paulownia tree having replaced the original tree planted by Le Corbusier when it became diseased. In 2013, wood from the first tree was crafted into three beautiful, functional objects – a bird, a birdhouse and a ledge by artist and designer Jaime Hayon for the Italian brand Cassina in conjunction with the Fondation Le Corbusier. The young tree stands in regal honour, a thriving recognition of Le Corbusier’s legacy and perpetuates the historical character of the Villa. Against the northern wall, a delightful vegetable plot offers home grown produce – swiss chard, strawberries, apples and pears – reminiscent of the home that was for the Jeanneret family.
© oneARTlover / FLC / ProLitteris, 2017
The Villa also plays host to artistic exhibitions linked with Le Corbusier or wider architectural themes. Last summer’s 2017 exhibition presented specifically-commissioned work by Parisian artist Adrien Couvrat whose mesmerizingly-beautiful, iridescent, striated canvases, accentuating Le Corbusier’s famous colour keyboards matched so precisely the ever-changing palette of the lake and environment. Couvrat’s imaginative talent enticed the outside inside and outside again.
Villa “Le Lac” Le Corbusier is a shining example of local, cultural heritage, a historical gem demonstrating the early work of one of the world’s most celebrated architects. Since 2016, it is one of sixteen other architectural works by Le Corbusier to be inscribed onto the UNESCO World Heritage List. The Villa is open weekends from 2pm until 5pm until 24 June and Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays 11am until 6pm from 29 June until 2 September. Year-round opening or guided visits led by eminent art historian, museologist and the Villa’s Curator Patrick Moser can be arranged by appointment.
Visit www.villalelac.ch for further information and a short film of the Villa.
Villa «Le Lac» Le Corbusier
Route de Lavaux 21
Toute reproduction interdite
© www.arteez.ch 2018