the ledoux museum
« THE LEDOUX MUSEUM »
The « Ledoux Museum », which presents the work of the Royal Saltworks creator, is the only European museum dedicated to an architect.
The life path of the architect is illustrated through about sixty models. Nowadays, few of his buildings remain, either because they were never built, or because they were destroyed by time or by man. Along the way, visitors can marvel at the variety of his works (theatres, private estates, and tax collection buildings), as well as at his “dreamed projects”, that sometimes had a utopian ring to them. Examples are the Ideal City in Chaux, a cemetery, a pleasure house, schools, prisons, and industrial buildings.
a few pieces
THE PARIS TOLLHOUSES
THE BESANCON THEATRE
“The theatre should be wider, larger than the space where the spectators are: it is the stage’s true place of magical illusions”; quote from Ledoux’s work “l’Architecture considérée sous le rapport de l’Art, des Mœurs et de la Législation”, 1804.
In the 18th century, Besançon was a garrison town of approximately 32,000 inhabitants, but did not have a theatre. Around 1770, plans were made for the renovation of the city, including the construction of a real theatre. At that time, Ledoux was on good terms with Mr de la Coré, the province’s quartermaster, as well as with the Governor, the Duras Marshal, and was commissioned to implement the project.
THE BENOUVILLE CASTLE
The Bénouville Castle, as we now see it, remains almost entirely undamaged. For Ledoux, it was a site of major importance where he worked on numerous innovative ideas. The building is the most significant and prestigious example of this new approach to architecture.
The castle is located near Caen in the countryside, close to the sea, and was built for the Marquess of Livry. Ledoux chose a more sober architectural style for the castle. Both the court and the garden have large ionic columns that embrace the central bays on three levels, and are fitted with garlands attached to the capitals.
THE THÉLUSSON MANSION
This mansion was built in 1778 for the widow of the Geneva banker Tobie Thélusson, in the Chaussée D’Antin neighbourhood on the outskirts of Paris. The half-buried monumental entry archway overlooks a charming sunken garden, followed by a cave that was used as the entrance.
The cave itself is overlooked by the mansion house with its circular extension in which an oval living room was located. The peristyle Corinthian columns clearly find their inspiration in the small Italian Tivoli temple. The theatrical style of architecture was so popular at the time that tickets were even given to those wishing to visit it.
THE CHAUX IDEAL CITY
Following the revolution in 1789, Ledoux used the Saltworks as a basis for the design of “the plans for a town made in view of its potential for growth ». On the outskirts of this ideal city, public and private buildings were to arise, where wide avenues with trees converged towards the centre. The city is part of the tradition of utopian cities launched in the 15th century by Filarete (1400/1469), and continued by contemporary architects such as Boullée and Lequeu.
THE GUIMARD MANSION
The Guimard Mansion, Terpsichore temple– the Dance Muse–, was a gift from the Soubise Marshal to Ms Guimard, French Opera Head Dancer, and one of the most famous courtesans of the time.
It was built on the Chaussée d’Antin neighbourhood, between court and garden, and is a compact mansion in the shape of a simple cube, enclosed laterally by two adjoining walls. The gate was shaped in a semicircle and semi-dome vault veiled by ionic columns. The open asymmetry of the interior design stands out. The oval and rectangular spaces were joined using tangential connections that left spaces used as built-in cupboards and sideboards.
The winter garden and the dining room at the centre of the dwelling were illuminated from above by skylights. A corridor with stables and sheds on each side lined the entrance to the mansion. Above the corridor, Ledoux installed a ‘permanent’ theatre, one of the first of its kind in a private residence. The oval room was surrounded by a colonnade resembling the one at the Palladio Olympic Theatre in Vicenza, and Ledoux’s contemporaries were amazed at the number of seats he had managed to fit into such a small space.
La salle ovale était enveloppée d’une colonnade à l’imitation du Théâtre Olympique de Palladio à Vicenze . Le nombre de places obtenu dans un si petit espace étonna les contemporains de Ledoux.