There has always been a set of names of architecture role models that are immediately associated with French architecture on a global level, some of which are Jean Nouvel, Dominique Perrault, and Le Corbusier. French architecture has played a pioneering role and has carved a niche for itself in the world’s architectural history, introducing some of the famous architectural styles. Though the history of the evolution of French architecture is interesting, it is also important and equally interesting to know the architects who have played a significant role in shaping French architecture. This article explores some of these important names and their contributions to the history of architecture in France.

1. Philibert de l’Orme (1514- 1570) 

L’Orme was one of the greatest architects of the 16th century, known for his Renaissance architectural style. Though he was greatly influenced by Italian architecture after spending a significant amount of time in Italy, he respected the local materials while paying attention to contextual differentiation and based his designs on engineering principles.

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Tomb of King Francis I in the Basilica of Saint Denis designed by Philibert Delorme_ ©wga.hu

2. Salomon de Brosse (1571- 1626)

Brosse laid importance on the simple yet bold designs in his plans and elevations. Some of his significant contributions were the renovation of the Palais de Justice in Paris and the designing of the Palais de Parlement in Rennes. 

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Palais de Parlement, Rennes_© flickr.com

3. Jacques Lemercier (1585- 1654) 

Architect Jacques Lemercier, also called Le Mercier, gained a significant position in the history of French architecture after he successfully introduced classical elements in his architectural designs. He was later recognized as the Master of Classism in France after the completion of his masterpiece Church of L’Oratoire.

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Church of L’Oratoire_© blogspot.com

4. François Mansart (1598-1666) 

Mansart was a leading French classical architect who was known for the unique style that he used in his projects, greatly inspired by the architects de Brosse and du Cerceau. Yet, the amount of purity in classical ornamentation details in his designs gave him a distinctive identity.

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Ste Maria de la Visitation, Paris, designed by Mansart_ ©wikimedia.com

5. Louis le Vau (1612-1670) 

Louis Le Vau was one of the greatest Baroque architects of the 17th century in France. One of his highly regarded projects was the Palace of Versailles, which established itself to be a fine example of a mixture of classical French and Baroque architectural styles, attracting thousands of tourists every year.

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Palace of Versailles built during the second half of the 17th century_ ©Aerofilms ltd. London

6. Claude Perrault (1613- 1688) 

Being a practicing physician, Perrault, with his minimal practical amateur experience in architecture was appointed to be a part of the rebuilding of the eastern façade of the Louvre museum, where he contributed actively to the final design of the Colonnade dominating the entire façade.

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Eastern facade of the Louvre Museum, Paris_ ©wikimedia.com

7. Robert de Cotte (1656- 1735) 

This influential architect was well-renowned for creating Rococo-style residential mansions in France, including Hôtel des Mousquetaires Noirs and Palais de Rohan. Soon after, he became the first architect to the king. One of the features that can be followed through all his designs is the combination of a comforting essence of the interiors and elegant facades implicating grandeur.

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Palais de Rohan, Stasbourg_ ©kirkerholidays.com

8. Germain Boffrand (1667- 1754) 

Boffrand was known for delivering varied typologies of quality architectural projects. Some of his remarkable contributions were the design of the Palace of Nantes and the altar of the cathedral of Nantes. In addition to this, his book “Livre d’architecture” gained popularity for its active contribution in spreading and communicating the French taste throughout Europe in the 18th century.

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Palace of Nantes_ ©brainybackpackers.com

9. Jean- Baptiste Alexandre Le Blond (1679- 1719) 

Le Blond was a landscape architect, with some of his major works being the garden design of the Palace of Peter I (The Great) at Peterhof in Russia.

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Garden design of the Palace of Peterhof resembling the garden design of Versailles Palace_ ©woondu.com

10. Jacques-Germain Soufflot (1713- 1780) 

Soufflot was a self-taught architect, well known for his Neoclassical architectural style. One of his popular projects is the design of Sainte-Genevieve, the Pantheon in Paris, intended to be the main church of Paris.

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Pantheon, Paris_© exploringrworld.com

11. Etienne- Louis Boullee (1728- 1799) 

Boullee was a French visionary architect, teacher and theorist who followed neoclassical architectural style throughout most of his projects. He was known for his remarkable Parisian city mansion designs, Hotel de Brunoy being one of the noteworthy ones. He brought in a unique concept of monumentality with a combination of calm and classical architecture. This in addition to the abstraction of geometric forms in his designs, makes his architectural approach discrete. One of the finest examples of his design is the Cenotaph, honouring Sir Isaac Newton.

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Cenotaph_ ©cgarchitects.com

12. Claude Nicolas Ledoux (1736- 1806) 

Ledoux was a French visionary architect, known for his Neoclassical architectural style during his time. Some of his classic sustaining works are Pavilion Hocquart, Normandy and the popular Chateau of Madame du Barry.

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Chateau of Madame du Barry_ ©chatou.fr

13. Jean Chalgrin (1739- 1811) 

Being a developer of Neoclassical architectural style, he is also a much-appreciated architect for the creation of his masterpiece- Arc de Triomphe, an important monument in Paris. He also contributed to reacquainting the Basilican style of Church architecture and the Saint Philippe du Roule was one of this kind, designed in 1764.

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Arc de Triomphe, Paris_© blogspot.com

14. Louis Bonnier (1856- 1946) 

Bonnier was involved in the city planning of Paris and holds a significant position in the history of the city, relaxing the strict building appearance restrictions in Paris (brought into rule by Haussmann), paving the way for Art Nouveau buildings.  

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Mairie de Templeuve, Nord, designed by Bonnier _ ©commons.wikimedia.org

15. Auguste Perret (1874- 1954) 

Perret was an architect known for his effective contributions to reinforced-concrete construction. His Garage project on the Rue de Ponthieu conveys his ideology with the use of reinforced concrete to reduce the structural supports, giving an open and light interior setup.

Hôtel de Ville by Perret_ ©artjuice.net

References:

  1. Encyclopedia Britannica. 2022. Claude-Nicolas Ledoux | French architect. [online] Available at: <https://www.britannica.com/biography/Claude-Nicolas-Ledoux> [Accessed 1 May 2022].
  2. Oxford Reference. n.d. François Mansart. [online] Available at: <https://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/oi/authority.20110803100131658> [Accessed 1 May 2022].
  3. Visual-arts-cork.com. n.d. Louis Le Vau: Biography of Baroque Architect. [online] Available at: <http://www.visual-arts-cork.com/architecture/louis-le-vau.htm> [Accessed 1 May 2022].
  4. Encyclopedia Britannica. n.d. Claude Perrault | French physician and architect. [online] Available at: <https://www.britannica.com/biography/Claude-Perrault> [Accessed 1 May 2022].
  5. Encyclopedia Britannica. n.d. Philibert Delorme | French architect. [online] Available at: <https://www.britannica.com/biography/Philibert-Delorme> [Accessed 1 May 2022].
  6. Encyclopedia Britannica. n.d. Jacques-François Blondel | French architect. [online] Available at: <https://www.britannica.com/biography/Jacques-Francois-Blondel> [Accessed 1 May 2022].
  7. Encyclopedia Britannica. n.d. Étienne-Louis Boullée | French architect. [online] Available at: <https://www.britannica.com/biography/Etienne-Louis-Boullee> [Accessed 1 May 2022].
  8. Encyclopedia Britannica. n.d. Alexandre-Jean-Baptiste Le Blond | French landscape designer. [online] Available at: <https://www.britannica.com/biography/Alexandre-Jean-Baptiste-Le-Blond> [Accessed 1 May 2022].
  9. Encyclopedia Britannica. n.d. Jacques-Germain Soufflot | French architect. [online] Available at: <https://www.britannica.com/biography/Jacques-Germain-Soufflot> [Accessed 1 May 2022].
  10. Encyclopedia Britannica. n.d. Germain Boffrand | French architect. [online] Available at: <https://www.britannica.com/biography/Germain-Boffrand> [Accessed 1 May 2022].
  11. Encyclopedia Britannica. n.d. Robert de Cotte | French architect. [online] Available at: <https://www.britannica.com/biography/Robert-de-Cotte> [Accessed 1 May 2022].
  12. Encyclopedia Britannica. n.d. Jean-François-Thérèse Chalgrin | French architect. [online] Available at: <https://www.britannica.com/biography/Jean-Francois-Therese-Chalgrin> [Accessed 1 May 2022].
  13. Smartify. n.d. Smartify | Louis Bonnier. [online] Available at: <https://smartify.org/artists/louis-bonnier> [Accessed 1 May 2022].
  14. Encyclopedia Britannica. n.d. Salomon de Brosse | French architect. [online] Available at: <https://www.britannica.com/biography/Salomon-de-Brosse> [Accessed 1 May 2022].
  15. Encyclopedia Britannica. n.d. Auguste Perret | French architect. [online] Available at: <https://www.britannica.com/biography/Auguste-Perret> [Accessed 1 May 2022].
Author

An architecture student who believes that any space can be turned into a lively environment only when it caters to its user’s needs and is extremely passionate about walking the cities on its journey in becoming sustainable and inclusive for its people.

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