French architect Pierre Chareau took few commissions, but those he did were all ground-breaking. He was the architect’s architect.
His most well-known project is this one—the 1928 Maison de Verre, for the Dalsace family, “inserted” within the courtyard of an existing building—from which every fashionable loft apartment ever since has been copied. Poorly.
Consisting of three floors, it was conceived as a total space, with a façade facing onto the courtyard completely enclosed in glass. Its metal frame structure supported framed panels of glass. While the rooms were separated by wood or metal closet doors that slid or rotated, the structure (beams and steel beams), pipes and ducts remained visible, participating in the architectural design so as to transform the house's functional elements into decorative ones.
[Pictures by Todd Eberle, François Halard, Ronald Zoetbroot and unknown others.]