Editor’s pick: Villa Cavrois

 

Villa Cavrois is a gem of modern architecture by Robert Mallet-Stevens located just outside the northern French industrial city of Roubaix . Mallet-Stevens is said to be one of the most remarkable French architects of the 1930’s along with Le Corbusier. He is also responsible for Villa Noailles in Hyères, known for its annual  Festival International des Arts de la Mode.

The original client and owner Paul Cavrois, a respected regional textile baron, was looking for a family home where he and his wife and their 7 children, could enjoy the fresh air, away from the thousands of factory chimneys of Roubaix.

Cavrois was neither art or architecture connoisseur so he gave the architect carte blanche.

Robert designed a modern castle of no less than 2800 m2 living area made out of yellow brick, which was very unusual for that time. He also designed the interior and matching furniture, even down to the smallest details. During World War II, Germans troops occupied the villa. After the liberation, it was divided into two apartments for the Cavrois sons.

In 1985, when the widow of Paul Cavrois died, the house was sold to a real estate developer who wanted to subdivide the surrounding park. The beginning of a long period of decline, where looters and squatters completely destroyed the house. It was only in 2001 that the French government managed to buy back the ruined property. 13 years later, having spent 23 million euro on its restoration, Villa Cavrois can now be admired again, in its original 1932 form.

The video now shown in the basement of the house gives a painfully good representation of the unimaginable damage done, and the even more mind-blowing efforts by so many different craftsmen, restoring it. Visitors that like to experiment with augmented reality can buy and download the Vila Cavrois app which gives an extra dimension to the visit.

Is it possible to entertain a kid with a visit to Villa Cavrois? Our 6 year old certainly appreciated it. She loved to explore all different rooms, leaving her imagination run wild.

The fact that the villa was divided into a children’s wing and one for the parents immediately caught her regard. The different bedrooms, studies and bathrooms of the seven children who actually lived there once, made her wonder who they were, what they did, where they slept and what games they played in their private playroom, overlooking the park and swimming pool with brick diving boards…

Good to know:

  • Villa Cavrois is open every day between 10:30 and 17:30, except on Tuesdays and bank holidays.
  • Adults pay € 8, youngsters up to 25 years can enter for free.
  • Address: 60 Avenue Kennedy, 59170 Croix
  • More information: www.villa-cavrois.fr
  • A visit takes about 2 -3 hours.

Nearby:

  • Musée La Piscine, Roubaix – a collection of sculptures, paintings and ceramics. Especially the old swimming pool setting is unique! www.roubaix-lapiscine.com
  • Espace Nord Ouest, Bondues – design market: www.espacenordouest.com
  • Hods, Bondues – design market: www.hods-design.com
  • Wambrechies, a small pleasure harbour, ideal for a little stroll.

Pictures © Amélie Rombauts & Koen Van Weverberg

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