Monuments

Maison blanche, La-Chaux-de-Fonds, 1912. Photo/Foto: TES.

The Maison blanche

Charles-Edouard Jeanneret (1887-1965), who called himself Le Corbusier, the family name of his grandmother, was a student at l’Ecole d’Art in La Chaux-de-Fonds (1904-1906). Afterwards, he opened his own architectural office in February 1912. The Maison blanche was his first project as an independent architect. He built the house for his parents, and he lived and worked there himself for several years, so did his brother, the musician Albert (1886-1973).

Le Corbusier had distanced himself from the Art Nouveau style, had travelled in Europe and the Middle East and learned modern architecture and new materials in Paris and Berlin. The Maison blanche was his laboratory of ideas, techniques and materials. It was a family home, meant for his parents, brother and himself, including rooms for playing the violin (Albert), piano (his mother), large windows for his father, who worked in the watchmaking industry and an atelier for his architectural office. The house was built on a hill, in the middle of nowhere these days, but close to a stone quarry, the reason he could buy the land relatively cheap. The family was not wealthy, and the architecture and interior are sober but efficient. The family left the house in 1919. The house was sold and had many owners. The house was classified as a historic monument in 1979 and restored in 2004. The interior spaces are based on the original construction, although some parts, such as the kitchen and the sanitary installations, had to be renovated to correspond to current needs. The façade, the roof and the walls and floors of the rooms have been restored to the textures and colours of 1912. The Association Maison blanche manages the building nowadays. (Source and further information: Association Maison blanche, www.villa-blanche.ch).