I’ve begun using Le Corbusier as an excuse to wander into, as yet uncharted, pockets of my corner of the city. I’m happy wandering aimlessly but it’s also nice to have a destination. Today I offer La Maison Planeix built between 1924 and 1928 for Antonin Planteix. Antonin was an amateur painter and admirer of modern architecture who made his living building funerary monuments. Rumor has it that Le Corbusier’s original plan had the house floating on piloti’s but Monsieur Planteix, eager to see a return on his not unsubstantial investment of 350 000 francs, opted instead for Pierre** Jeanneret’s suggestion of two income-generating duplex rental studios at ground level.
Maison Planeix has been called une boîte à miracles, a “box” containing treasures for those lucky enough to be invited in*. You can get a present-day glimpse of one of the studios here and a look at the interior of the main residence here.
And here is a description of what we can’t see, from the Foundation Le Corbusier website:
Ground floor: a garage in the center of the building. Left and right are two workshops. (Workshop, loft, bedroom, bathroom and kitchen).
First floor (second floor to those living in the U.S. of A.): Entrance, living room, two bedrooms, bathroom, and kitchen. The living room leads directly to a gateway garden.
Second floor (third floor to those living in the U.S. of A): large workshop.
And here a heady excerpt from pages 38 of The Le Corbusier Guide By Deborah Gans:
“The architects chose a classical and particularly Palladian mode of urban house and inverted many of the features according to the five points***. Pilotis and a glass wall replace the traditional solid rusticated base. Roof terraces assume the position of the attic story, the terrace handrail delineating the lost cornice line.”
And a fun fact from page 39:
“In ironic comment on Corbusier’s rhetoric of light and air, a building permit was denied the original plans because of the inadequate ventilation of the bath and bedroom.”
It sounds like the rear of the house is where all the action is but I can’t find any pictures. There’s a two-story hillside garden with a free-standing staircase that leads to the glass walled main living spaces. (The bathroom and bedrooms are tucked into the overhang on the street side.) I guess finding pictures of the garden side will be added to my to do list.
And finally a quote from William J.R. Curtis*****:
“Le Corbusier used the formula “une maison/un palais” – “a house/a palace.” He meant… the ennoblement of a basic house type through proportion to the point where it achieved monumentality… If there is a single Le Corbusier house of the 1920s that really deserves the description “une maison, un palais”, it must surely be the Maison Planeix of 1924-8.”
I wasn’t terribly struck by Maison Planeix when I visited it but I’ve quite enjoyed reading about it.
*Maison Planeix is a private residence and not open to the public. The closest wheelchair accessible Tram (T3a) stop is Vitry / Maryse Bastié, Porte d’Ivry is only slightly further away. Right next door is resto Loa Viet. I didn’t eat there but the food looked good and the place was hopping. They’ve got an accessible entrance though the interior looked a little tight.
**Le Corbusier’s cousin and partner on many projects.
***The Five Points (Five Points Towards a New Architecture)
1) The supports. Pilotis provide the structural support for the building
2) The roof gardens. Roof gardens replace the green area lost to the building footprint.
3) The free designing of the ground-plan. An open floor plan allowing rooms to be configured with out regard for structural supports.
4) The horizontal window. Maximum illumination and ventilation.
5) Free design of the façade. Non-supporting walls that can be manipulated to meet the needs (whims) of the architect.
**** Info about Antonin Planteix culled from here: The Architecture of Paris: An Architectural Guide By Andrew Ayers, Page 210
*****William J.R. Curtis, Le Corbusier: Ideas and Forms, 1986