Images from the Much-Anticipated Restoration of Eileen Gray's E-1027

At long last, after over a decade of project mismanagement and controversial repairs that ignited concerns over historical integrity, restorations have been completed on E-1027, Eileen Gray’s 1929 masterpiece on France’s Côte d’Azur. The house, which heavily influenced the work of Le Corbusier and became an object of his jealous fixation, has a traumatic past that nearly resulted in its loss to history.

Villa E-1027 - The main room with furniture and tapestry by Eileen Gray, with a mural by Le Corbusier. Image © Manuel Bougot - FLC/ADAGP
Villa E-1027 - The main room and the polychromatic wall that was discovered during renovation. Image © Tim Benton – FLC/ADAGP

Like the Villa Savoye and the Viipuri Library, early modernist works completed within five years of each other, E-1027 spent much of the twentieth century in a state of total disrepair before undergoing recent life-saving restorations. Used for target practice by German soldiers during World War II, E-1027 went on to witness the murder of its homeowner before being abandoned in the 1990s and occupied by illegal squatters. [1] The house was subsequently bought by the Conservatoire du littoral, which in conjunction with local authorities began the long process of reviving the modernist gem.

Villa E-1027 - View of the bedroom with the headbord and book case restored to the original state. Design Eileen Gray. Image © Manuel Bougot
Villa E-1027 - The main bedroom. Image © Tim Benton – FLC/ADAGP

Sexual politics have been central to E-1027’s early obscurity and descent into dereliction. In the 1930s, the house was infamously defaced by Le Corbusier, who violated the pure white planes of the house with eight colorful, highly sexualized murals while staying as a guest. “Seemingly affronted that a woman could create such a fine work of modernism,” critic Rowan Moore recounts, “he asserted his dominion, like a urinating dog, over the territory.” [2] Not having been consulted beforehand, the architect was incensed by Le Corbusier’s act of vandalism. Her subsequent conflict with the profession’s rising star, along with entrenched misogyny in the design establishment, conspired to confine her career to her rival’s shadow for much of the twentieth century. [3]

Villa E-1027 – "La chambre d'amis"; mural by Le Corbusier. Image © Manuel Bougot - FLC/ADAGP

Newly released images of the restored house showcase Gray’s genius and prescience. Pioneering a language of industrial modernism that has since become commonplace, E-1027 was among the first residential projects to experiment with staple elements of modernist vocabulary such as ribbon windows, flat roofs, and pipe railings. More than ever, the refinished building conveys the restrained beauty of Gray’s delicate functionalism that has imparted such a profound effect on subsequent generations of architects – from Schindler to Neutra to Meier – and earned its right to continued preservation.

Villa E-1027 / Eileen Gray and Jean Badovici. Image © Tim Benton – FLC/ADAGP
Villa E-1027 / Eileen Gray and Jean Badovici. Image © Manuel Bougot - FLC/ADAGP

[1] Gordon, Alastair. “Le Corbusier’s Role in the Controversy Over Eileen Gray’s E-1027.” The Wall Street Journal. 19 Aug. 2013. Last accessed 10 June 2015 at

[2] Moore, Rowan. “Eileen Gray’s E1027 – Review.” The Guardian. 29 June 2013. Last accessed 10 June 2015 at

[3] Rawsthorn, Alice. “The Tortured History of Eileen Gray’s Modern Gem.” The New York Times. 25 Aug. 2013. Last accessed 10 June 2015 at

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Cite: David Langdon. "Images from the Much-Anticipated Restoration of Eileen Gray's E-1027" 11 Jun 2015. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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