53 Avenue Reille
A few weeks ago I visited Villa Savoye with an architect friend and while there purchased a map of all the Le Corbusier buildings in France. When I finally got around to perusing the map I realized that there were five Le Corbusiers within a 30ish minute rolling radius of my apartment. This makes sense as the outer reaches of the 14th were mostly farms and quarries when LC was making a name for himself so land was comparatively plentiful and cheap. Those factors coupled with Montparnasse’s artsy vibe would have made the area a perfect testing ground for his modernist ideas.
The building closest to me is 53 Avenue Reille a home/studio built in 1923 for Le Corbusier’s friend, the artist and color theorist Amédée Ozenfant. The townhouse is a private residence and most definitely not wheelchair accessible so I was only able to look from the outside. What struck me most was that while Le Corbusier was building Chez Ozenfant, just up the street at 40* Square Montsouris**, architect Gilles Buisson was building himself a home mimicking a style from the distant past.
Say what you will about modernist architecture but 53 Avenue Reille has got to be far brighter than 40 Square Montsouris.
I like to explore first and research later which is sometimes a good thing and sometimes not. At #53 I found myself unable to photograph the hideous roofline and was pleased to discover it was not part of Le Corbusier’s original design. Desnnis Sharp puts it this way, “[The house] possessed a geometrical clarity inside and out which has since been lost with the elimination of the north-light roof and its replacement by a flat one.”***
#55 and #57 flow relatively seamlessly from LC’s design but are a bit less refined.
Just up the street from 53, 55, and 57 Avenue Reille sits a SDF (Sans Domicile Fixe) encampment.
*You can read more about #40 here.
**Square Montsouris is well worth a visit thoughts it’s not terribly wheelchair friendly as it’s a cobbled hill, up one way and down the other.
***Dennis Sharp, Twentieth Century Architecture: a Visual History. p66.