A panorama of Villa Cavrois
Location within France
|Architectural style||International style|
|Town or city||Croix|
|Design and construction|
A modern concept
Villa Cavrois is a testimony to the modernist vision of the 1920s as it was conceived by designers such as Le Corbusier, Pierre Chareau and the Bauhaus school. Luminosity, hygiene and comfort are the keywords that underlie such buildings. Villa Cavrois illustrates this concept with simplicity and elegance.
The large modern mansion was organized to offer the best possible lifestyle to the nine members of the family and to facilitate the daily work of the household staff. Its style was a total break from that of other neighbouring houses in the suburbs of Croix, even those of the same era. Clear guidelines governed the design of the building, which was commissioned in 1929: "air, light, work, sports, hygiene, comfort and efficiency".
Mallet-Stevens' work was not limited to the design of the building. he also designed the interior decoration and the gardens which surround the house. The layout of the villa was designed to ease movement and to organize in a rationale way day-to-day life in the building. Organised around the large entry hall which welcomes the visitors, the east wing is domain of the parents, while the west wing is devoted to the children and to the household staff. The entry hall gives access to the main rooms where the family gathered; the salon, the dining room and a smaller dining room for the children, linked to the garden by an external staircase.
The choice of materials and furniture inside echoed the hierarchy of space: everything was conceived and adapted for use in place. Simplicity and functionality of the furniture prevail in all parts. The luxury of this house does not lie in carved detailing or gilding, it unfolds in the richness of the materials used, such as unadorned marble, metal and wood.
The Villa Cavrois provided for its occupants a large number of amenities especially rare for the time, even in luxury houses. Use of the latest modern technology, especially electricity meant each room was provided with electric lighting, a radio loudspeaker, an electric clock and telephones enabled people to communicate between rooms or with the outside world. The house was provided with air conditioning, electric vacuum cleaning, and towel heaters. The water system provided hot and cold water, as well as softened water for cooking and drinking. Lighting was the subject of special care, in collaboration with engineer Solomon. The lighting, both direct and indirect, is very delicate and elegant.
A difficult evolution
From 1940 the German Army requisitioned the Villa. In 1947, at the request of Paul Cavrois, the architect Pierre Barbe made changes to adapt the home to the new lifestyles of the family which now comprised several couples.
After the death of Madame Cavrois in 1986, the furniture was scattered and the house sold to a real estate company which planned to sell off the park in parcels. The villa was abandoned and quickly looted, ransacked and occupied by squatters.
That same year saw the birth of an association to protect and preserve the house. Since its inception the association has lobbied the competent authorities on the fate of the villa.
The French State, through its Ministry of Culture purchased the building in 2001 and in 2004, restoration work commenced on the exterior (closed and covered terraces, windows ...) and the reinstatement of domestic volumes.
By order of December 18, 2008, the Ministry of Culture entrusted villa Cavrois to Centre des monuments nationaux (CMN), with the mission to restore it and open it to the public.
CMN conducted the restoration of the interior spaces and decors (floors, wall coverings, paintwork, furniture), in order to recreate the art of living in the 20th century. CMN has also restored the park (replantation of trees, restoration of the water mirror and of original alleys) and the illumination of the park and the villa.
The villa opened to the public on 13 June 2015, with a cultural project aiming at making it a national and international reference point for modern architecture and design.
The global amount of works planned by CMN for the opening of villa Cavrois is estimated at 9 million euros.
- Parsy P-H, (2015), The Villa Cavrois Editions du patrimoine, Paris. ISBN 978275704622
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