When thinking of Paris’ architecture some of the first things coming to our mind are usually Gothic Notre Dame Cathedral and St. Chapelle or Haussmann’s boulevards with the same historical buildings on them.
But, what often slips our mind is the 20th century and its Modern architecture that pretty much shaped Paris as we know it today. I wanted to learn more about it, so during my last visit to Paris I joined the Modernist Architecture walking tour organised by Context Travel.
Modernist Architecture in Paris’ 16th Arrondissement
At the beginning of the 20th century Paris is becoming one of the centres of new modern architectural styles. Architects wanted to ensure better living conditions, more light and a better usage of a space. They started to use new materials like glass, steel and metal and wanted to build houses that will be functional and artistically unique.
Interestingly enough most of them were built in the 16th Arrondissement, so today it is filled with the examples of modernist architecture created by some if the most famous architects from that time.
Here are some of the most beautiful examples, you shouldn’t miss on your next visit to Paris:
Change in the style of architecture was definitely marked with a construction of the Eiffel Tower. Although initially planned only as a temporary entrance to the 1889s World’s Fair it became a permanent sight and today one of the most prominent symbols of Paris.
It started to appear as a reaction to historical architecture that was popular at the end of the 19th century. Architects started to look for inspiration in the nature, its curved lines and organic forms. It is mostly represented in Paris by its Metro Stations designed by Hector Guimard.
# Castel Béranger
At the end of the 19th century identical Haussman’s facades were more and more criticised among Parisians. To respond to that the City of Paris is organising the competition for the most beautiful facade in the city. One of the winners in 1898 was just finished Castel Béranger designed by Hector Guimard. It was the first building in Paris designed in a new Art Noveau style. Organic ornament he was using and a new modern use of a space were definitely something new for Parisians.
Art Deco is a style that’s becoming popular in Paris in 1920s and 1930s, after the exhibition organised in 1925 showcasing new tendencies in art and design. They are using rich decorative materials with geometrical lines forming classy luxurious style.
# Palais de Chaillot, 1937
Palais de Chaillot waas built for the Exposition Internationale in 1937. The terrace between the two wings of the palace offers a great view on Eiffel Tower. Today is a home to The Musée national des Monuments Français, a perfect place to learn more about the Modern architecture of Paris. One of my favourite things there was a plan of Paris with all the changes city went through during the architectural redesign made by Baron Haussmann in the 19th Century. Palace is also known as a place where the UN accepted the Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.
Modern architects are using different approaches to their buildings, from organic Art Noveau, decorative expensive materials of Art Deco to the geometrical forms mostly used by Le Corbusier and Mallet-Stevens.
# Auguste Perret’s Residential Building
In the residential building Auguste Perret built in 1903, he’s using concrete for the first time in history. It allowed him to form any shape he wanted and to create more liveable houses with larger rooms with more light. The result is one of the first true modern buildings in Paris.
# Villa la Roche & Villa Jeanneret
8-10 square du Docteur-Blanche, Paris
Le Corbusier designed this house in 1925 for the Swiss banker who also wanted to have a gallery in the house for his large collection of avant-garde art. It’s detached to Villa Jeanneret, also designed by him. Two houses are forming Foundation Le Corbusier today and are on the UNESCO World’s heritage list.
Le Corbusier is definitely one of the most important Modernist architects and one of his most important works is residential building Cité Radieuse in Marseille. However, you can see reconstruction of one of apartments in the Museum national des Monuments Français in Palais de Chaillot.
# Rue Mallet-Stevens
The other place that shouldn’t be missed by any Modernist architecture lovers. A street that was created by the architect Robert Mallet-Stevens in which he designed six houses in 1920s.
Paris is one of my favourite cities because of its variety, all the different architectural styles and the great art it’s producing still today. Its Modern Architecture is definitely something that shouldn’t be missed and the tour Context Travel are offering will give you a perfect insight into this time.
*I was a guest on this tour organised by Context Travel, however as always all opinions are my own. This post contains some affiliate links.