French architecture has always been notable for its sophistication and conceptuality. That is why architectural works created by French masters have often been a source of inspiration for designers in other countries. The whole world follows the change of architectural styles, which became topical in France at different historical periods.
During the heyday of the Renaissance (15-16 centuries), France, among the leading European states “picked up” the wave of Renaissance architecture. However, this rather pompous style, originated in Italy (see projects of houses in the Italian Renaissance style), in France was based on the strong base of the preceding Gothic style. Through a mixture of Renaissance and Gothic, a new trend emerged in which the emphasis was not on appearance, but on interior convenience.
Renaissance in French
The houses built during the Renaissance in French cities were not as perfectly symmetrical and regular as those in Italy. The form of buildings, including expensive estates and even royal palaces, followed the layout, and could include all sorts of extensions, asymmetrical transitions, etc. External effect was achieved by means of large forms and decorative elements. This combination of historical styles can be called one of the first examples of eclecticism in architecture.
At the end of the 19th century in European countries modernism was widespread. In architecture, Art Nouveau manifested itself in the use of new improved materials, the careful study of the interior space, as well as the combination of different stylistic and design solutions. At the same time, the architects almost completely abandoned the historical styles, replacing them with more modern trends.
In the early 20th century, when it became possible to style houses in any style, suburban cottages, in which the features of the classical Renaissance and farmhouse were intertwined, began to be actively built in France. At the same time, there was a demand for architecture in a variety of historical styles. For example, some country cottages were built according to the canons of medieval English architecture. During this period, the private development of French suburbs became quite diverse. Developers could afford any extravagance within the framework of historical styles, and could simply build simple housing without frills, and all this perfectly fit into the existing fashion.
In the 60s and 70s of the 20th century, a particular vision of French architecture emerged. The main feature of suburban housing in this period was the mansard roof – projects of houses with a mansard. After a brief phase of modernist experimentation, architects returned to the design principles accepted in historical styles. In particular, the proportions of houses again became regular and standardized; there were more decorative elements, referring to the Renaissance or Gothic. Although the houses built at this time are characterized by restrained exteriors and interiors, they are the most eclectic, because in addition to traditional styles, they now make use of the achievements of Art Nouveau and its offshoots.
It turns out that French architecture has always been in one way or another eclectic. But the heyday of eclecticism is in our time. The period of popularity of eclecticism began about 20 years ago. The end of the 20th and beginning of the 21st century is a period when new building materials and construction technologies appeared, allowing the realization of almost any ideas of architects. The sphere of designing private country houses has become more popular, a lot of young talented specialists who can develop projects of inexpensive, but very comfortable and beautiful cottages. In addition, during this period there is a liberation of ordinary private developers. People are increasingly daring to build for themselves such houses, which do not merge with neighboring buildings, but on the contrary – stand out favorably against the general background. As a result low-rise architecture in France has been enriched by unique eclectic cottages, as well as houses that embody a classic style with maximum precision.
The main thing in architectural eclecticism
Today you can build a country cottage in any style and of any size. However, the economic crisis, which has also affected traditionally prosperous European countries, dictates its conditions. Small economical cottages are now being built much more often than large mansions. But even in these conditions, eclecticism continues to flourish. People are already used to seeing, for example, the features of historical castle architecture in the form of modest-sized houses. In addition, a competent architect is able to combine economy and luxury so that it looked quite harmonious and attractive. This contributes to the fact that private developers are increasingly building houses with bright elements of different architectural styles. Thus, a compact cottage can have wide roof overhangs, arched windows, dedicated masonry openings, and yet it looks great.
In many cases, houses are now clad in stucco. And the elements that used to be accentuated with masonry are simply highlighted by the color of the cladding. But if you apply a different principle of dividing the facades with color, you can get a high-tech or art deco style.
The mix of solutions and styles in modern houses is increasingly dictated by the content of the cottages, that is their layout. So, the facade of the building, which faces the roadway, can be conservative and as presentable as possible. But the back facade, overlooking the courtyard, can be designed in a modern style with panoramic windows and a large open terrace. The main thing in architectural eclecticism – it is a harmonious combination of radically different stylistic elements, so they added up in a single coherent architectural composition. Otherwise there are no restrictions.