Sunshine and shade in the architecture of Eileen Gray
Authors: Ryan, Daniel
Eileen Gray’s houses along the Côte d’Azur ‘Villa E1027’ (1926-29) and ‘Tempe à Pailla’ (1932- 34) are noted as “among the first convincing attempts to adapt Modernist forms to a hot climate” (Hecker and Muller 1993:59). Her published drawings and commentary display a preoccupation with well-being and a strong interest in geometry, movement and daily ritual. By organising the circulation of her buildings in relation to the path of the sun, Gray connected these rituals to solar rhythms.
Villa E1027 was analysed using bioclimatic theory and computer simulation which brought to light new evidence of solar alignments in Gray’s architecture, along with rigorous design of solar shading and considered use of thermal mass. Her writings to accompany the publication of the building display a critique of the application of hygiene that indicate an environmental awareness that is only picked up in later bioclimatic theory of the 1960s. This building is a case study of significant interest for early modern environmental architecture.