Studio-Apartment Le Corbusier – Experiments of architectural colour theory
Over the decades, Le Corbusier's Parisian studio-apartment in the "Immeuble Molitor" has been the scene of many transformations and architectural experiments. After two years of extensive restoration work, the apartment atelier, which has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2017, has recovered its original state and has been open to the public since the beginning of June.
Flooded with light, Le Corbusier's personal duplex apartment extends over the entire upper floor, which also houses his studio and offers a unique view of the forests of Boulogne. Le Corbusier's Parisian studio apartment is located at Immeuble Molitor, rue Nungesser et Coli no. 24, designed between 1931 and 1934 by Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret, his cousin and partner. Due to its east-west orientation, ideal sunlight is possible. Since the building is not facing any other building, he was able to compose full-window façades inspired by the Maison de Verre.
The construction of the house began in February 1932, after Le Corbusier received the building permit from the city of Paris and Boulogne. There were some delays. Due to the disused construction site, the building slowly threatened to disintegrate. It was not until 1950 that the renovation started. At that time the damaged glass curtains were replaced and the façade was renewed. In 2018, after two years of extensive restoration work, the Paris apartment studio of Le Corbusier, which has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2017, is back to its original state.
Architectural experiments of interior design
Throughout his life, Le Corbusier dedicated his day to painting and architecture. It is said that he opened the door for a client in the morning and informed him that Monsieur Le Corbusier was back in the afternoon. Later that day, the same client came and the same gentleman opened up to him, who now introduced himself as architect Le Corbusier.
Not least because of his artistic nature, the apartment of Le Corbusier became over the decades the scene of many transformations and architectural experiments. He tried his favorite materials, such as glass, wood and aluminum, and changed the interior of his home all the time. He also changed the colour scheme of the walls frequently and adapted them to the prevailing lighting conditions. The architect Giulia Marino, who is specialized in restorations, describes the process that was required to restore the apartment to its original state as hard research work. Many undated photos had to be viewed and sorted chronologically to trace the process of change in the apartment studio.
"By comparing hundreds of photos, we've seen how space has changed over the decades, how furniture, materials and artwork came and went, and how certain aspects have remained constant over the years, like the red-painted wall in the living room and the location of certain objects and paintings. "
- Giulia Marino, Architect & Conservator -
"The restoration team had to use extra efforts, for example analyzing the layers of paint so that all colours could be identified - at that time there was only black and white photography," explains the architect. For the re-painting, the recipes of the original oil colours were modeled. The timelessly modern colour design of the apartment-studio shines in the same splendor as during Le Corbusier's lifetime. The entire restoration work was under the direct supervision of the Fondation Le Corbusier.
The glass façade of the Immeuble Molitor
Colour analysis of different layers of oil paints
Le Corbusiers atelier in original condition ...
... and after the restoration
Of all the works of the most famous French architect in the world, this seems to be the most expressive. "This is a very special cultural heritage, as Le Corbusier lived there from 1934 until his death in 1965, during which time he worked there," explains François Chatillon, chief architect of heritage preservation, working closely with Bénédicte Gandini, architect of the Fondation Le Corbusier, on the restoration work of the Immeuble Molitor.
Le Corbusier colour effects in the interior
Le Corbusier designed the building before he created the Architectural Polychromy for the wallpaper company Salubra. However, he already devoted himself intensively to the polychrome studies of architectural colour design. In 1931, he produced the first 43 colours of the Architectural Polychromy colour system. In 1959, Le Corbusier added 20 more colours to his colour palette.
"Blue and his green mixtures create space, create a sense of distance, create an atmosphere, push the wall into the distance, making it palpable, depriving it of the quality of firmness by creating a certain airiness between the wall and the viewer. Red fixes the wall, affirms its exact location, its dimension, its presence. "
- Le Corbusier -
Original photo of the bedroom
The Mediterranean-looking Bleu Outremer gives the room space and invites you to dream, while the dynamic Le Jaune Vif cheers up, before looking into the mirror behind it.
Bathing with a look in the sky:
The bright ultramarine makes the walls of the small bathroom soft and the room looks bigger and more airy.
Original photo of the living room
The red room divider:
The luminous vermilion fixes the wall with a chimney and separates the sitting area from the other living area; the adjacent dark umber sets the back wall in shadow and gives more depth.
Aesthetic colour concepts:
Le Corbusier's private duplex apartment makes a targeted use of the architectural colours: Blue loosens up the space and creates an airy extension, while the umbra pillar separates the entrance from the living space. The contrast in colour of the steps highlights the staircase to the roof garden.
The restored apartment studio has been open to the public since the beginning of June 2018. The tour will be time-delayed in French and English.
Monday: 2:30 PM (FR), 4 PM (EN)
Tuesday to Thursday upon request
Friday: 2:30 PM (FR), 4 PM (EN)
Saturday: 10:30 AM, 2 PM und 4:30PM (FR), 12:15 PM und 3:15 PM (EN)
Le Corbusier’s Appartement-Atelier, Immeuble Molitor
Fondation Le Corbusier
24, rue Nungesser et Coli
Telephone: 0033 14 288 7572