Paris...à pied, les yeux ouverts, le nez en l'air
ou l'architecture dans tous ses détails

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    This a quiet and in many ways unexceptional part of the 16th arrondissement but which is made up of a number of streets that together provide an overview of Parisian domestic architecture over the past 150 years. Its turn-of-the century town houses, its up-market early 20th century villas as well as ground-breaking work of Le Corbusier, Mallet-Stevens and other  1920s architects. There are also some apartment blocks which mushroomed in the 60s and 70s and which are in somewhat better taste than their suburban counterparts.

    Map

    (click on the pics to enlarge)

    before 1914-18

    First are the town houses in the rue de l'Yvette and then the more modest-looking twinned frontages in rue Henri Heine which  however have small gardens at the rear (visible from the square du Docteur Blanche).

     

    There are also Haussmann-style buildings by Jean-Marie Boussard (the Baron would surely have disapproved of the use of polished brick or Italian-style loggias): 76 & 78 avenue Mozart leading back to the rue de l'Yvette and rue de la Cure, 4 & 6 rue Jasmin and a little further on 41, 42 & 45 rue Ribera as well as 5 rue Dangeau. This architect had a taste for caryatids:

    sculpture, carvings and terracotta:

    ornate entrance halls:

    and pale blue glazed bricks which were used on five of the eight buildings he built in the area (but also for the main Paris telephone exchange rue du Louvre):

    At 4 rue de la Cure, on the side wall have a look at the stained glass in the bow-window which must give the interior a hot-house feel.

    Lastly comes the telephone exchange at 21 rue Jasmin built in 1913 by the architect Paul Guadet in a style more redolent of the 20s than its actual period. It's worth taking the time to pick out the patterns in ceramic set into the façade and around the door.

    inter-war

    Far less daring than his early works and the Castel Béranger, in 1922 Hector Guimard built a small town house at 3 square Jasmin and a building so well-behaved that it's almost invisible  18 rue Henri Heine but with a noticeably plain entrance hall.

     

    With its white and stark-naked concrete façades, interplay of lines, large  windows (often wider than they are tall, a real novelty) and terraced roofs, much of the old style was ditched.
    Pierre Patout who was entrusted with the interior descoration of the liners "Ile-de-France" and "Normandie" designed the building at 5 rue du Docteur Blanche with a noteworthy door and ironwork. 15 rue Henri Heine and 24 rue Jasmin are both by Pol Abraham.

    Robert Mallet-Stevens, the architect of the villa Noailles at Hyères, built this street which bears his name: five large private houses and caretaker's lodge at the far end. The stained glass is by Barillet, the railings and doors by Jean Prouvé;  Mallet-Stevens kept no. 12 for himself and the twin sculptors Joël and Jan Martel set up their studio at no.10 (The overall look was altered by additions in the 1970s).

    Le Corbusier was commissioned to design two houses : one was for his brother and the other (open to the public) for the collector La Roche ; from the outside the two houses look like one.

    Less daring but typical of their times some other buildings are worth looking at: 5 rue de la Cure red brick with contrasted pointing and intricate patterns on the upper floors, 40 rue Jasmin with tinted concrete, 10 rue du Docteur Blanche (high school), the very art deco 32 rue Raffet, 16 rue Ribera with its top floor decorated with broken tiles.

    after 1945

    Few interesting façades but, nonetheless, there is 11 square Jasmin, which suggest paintings by Mondrian and architecture by Mies van der Rohe with its streamlining and use of steel and glass, a novelty for Paris at the time. Unlike many others, this building has aged well. Lastly, there is the additional wing of the telephone exchange at 19 rue Jasmin with its metal frontage which recalls the Diamond palazzo in Ferrara and Gesu Nuovo in Naples.

     

    21st century

    Apart from the land at the corner of rue Henri Heine and rue Jasmin which is unused for the time being, another site is being cleared (July 2012) 1bis rue Raffet thus leading to the demolition of the only remaining trace of "le vieux Paris" in this area. Will it be replaced with something forward-looking or merely by another feeble architectural backward glance ?