Villa as seen from the main gate. Twisty path is leading to the entrance visible to the left. Photographed in 2017

Possibly the best example of Irish modernism, that’s not even in Ireland. Designed by the Irish designer-turned-architect Eileen Grey in cooperation with her partner Jean Badovici between 1926-29, located in little village Roquebrune-Cap-Martin on the French Riviera (about half an hour drive from Nice).

View of the main southern terrace and master bedroom windows with movable shutters. Photographed in 2017
View of the main southern terrace. Photographed in 2017

Other than being an outstanding example of early modernist total design experience – the building and the furniture are integral entities – the building was subject to artistic intervention by no other than Le Corbusier himself. This resulted in 8 controversial murals that led to long lasting dispute between Gray, Badovici and Le Corbusier.

One of 8 controversial murals painted by Le Corbusier. Guest’s room in lower ground floor. Photographed in 2017
Geography-themed collage linked with integrated light fitting in the main room (replica). Photographed in 2017

Currently, after many years of neglect and delapidation, the villa is restored (another controversial topic – this time among the conservation community) and since 2015 available for guided tours (together with adjoining Le Cabanon, and the holiday cabins by Le Corbusier).

Master bedroom’s terrace with Le Corbusier’s holiday cabins visible in the background. Photographed in 2017

It’s a pity that such an architectural masterpiece was not built in Ireland, and Eileen Grey herself had to leave Ireland for England and subsequently France early in her life to pursue her career.

Interesting solution to the electric installation. Surface-mounted exposed wiring. Photographed in 2017.
External ‘solarium’ with Monaco visible in the background. Photographed in 2017.

It’s worth noting that when E-1027 was being designed in 1926, the Weissenhof Siedlung in Stuttgart was still a year away, and the benchmark modernist villas like Mies van der Rohe’s Haus Tugendhat or Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye were not even commissioned.

Shaded terrace under the main house raised on the columns (pilotis) in accordance with Le Corbusier’s 5 principles of modern architecture. Photographed in 2017

More information on Grey’s work and tour bookings available on Cap Moderne’s website.

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