Corbu's First Work Now Publicly Accessible

John Hill
29. August 2022
Photo: Aline Henchoz, Ville de La Chaux-de-Fonds

Of course, when Villa Fallet was built in 1906, Le Corbusier was not yet Le Corbusier (he adopted the monicker in 1920). Born Charles-Édouard Jeanneret in La Chaux-de-Fonds in 1887, the future architect attended the art school in his hometown and studied under painter Charles L'Eplattenier. Jeanneret and his classmates were aiming to find a regionalist style in the Art Nouveau spirit, what would come to be known as the "Style sapin" (pine tree style). Villa Fallet is a notable example of the style in the French-speaking region of Switzerland.

Photo: Aline Henchoz, Ville de La Chaux-de-Fonds

Commissioned by engraver and jeweler Louis-Edouard Fallet in 1905, L'Eplattenier entrusted the project to his students that included a young Le Corbusier. According to the Fondation Le Corbusier, Jeanneret was placed in charge of drawing up the plans and supervising the construction site with the architect René Chapallaz. The villa, with pitched roof and geometric patterns in different colors across its facades, was considered a success at the time it was built and led to similar houses being built in the area.

Photo: Aline Henchoz, Ville de La Chaux-de-Fonds

The General Council of La Chaux-de-Fonds validated the purchase of Villa Fallet for 1.15 million Swiss francs in March, taking possession of the building at the end of May. The house opened to the public for the first time on June 25 during the Fête de l'urbanisme horloger. Villa Fallet is part of the "Le Corbusier's first villas" tour organized by the tourist office of La Chaux-de-Fonds; the tour also includes Maison Blanche, completed in 1912 and considered the first house built by Le Corbusier as an independent architect.

Photo: Aline Henchoz, Ville de La Chaux-de-Fonds

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