29 May 2017

Illustrating a Modernist Marvel

Since its auspicious beginnings, Villa Cavrois has endured quite the turbulent life, involving occupation by German forces during the second world war, internal remodelling in the 1950s and the threat of destruction when it was bought by a property developer in 1986. An architectural manifesto, the chateaux was designed and built in the Lille suburb of Croix between 1929 and 1932 but maintains an uncompromising modern character that makes it look like it could've been built last week. Originally created for Paul Cavrois, a textile industrialist from the region, it's a building that encapsulates the progressive ideals championed by architect Robert Mallet-Stevens and other exponents of the International Style – with obvious nods to the Austrian modernity of Adolf Loos and Josef Hoffman.

   

Between 1988 and 2001, the house stood empty and was ransacked and vandalised before the state purchased it and appointed the Centre des Monuments Nationaux to oversee the restoration. A process that took 12 years to complete, the chateaux reopened to the public in 2015 with the state coughing up a hefty sum of €23 million to polish the architectural gem back to its former glory. All of Mallet-Stevens’ archives were destroyed at his request following his death in 1945 so the process was a bit of a bumpy detour off the road to restoration. Where possible, rooms have been returned to their original state with fitted furniture, lighting and artworks all accurately reproduced. While I took a whole lot of photos when I visited, I decided to butcher my original images further modernise the minimal mansion with the trusty help of the paint tool.



















 




 



See my full gallery of unedited images here.