LAVIROTTE, Jules Aimé
(b. 1864, Lyon, d. 1924, Paris)

Biography

French architect. He was initially a pupil of Antoine Georges Louvier (1818-1892) at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Lyon, and then of Paul Blondel (1847-1897) at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris. He soon showed a taste for the profusion of ornament that was widespread in French architecture at the time. Lavirotte's first block of flats, built in 1898 at 151, Rue de Grenelle, Paris, is comparatively restrained, with a façade in the Louis XV style facing the street and another façade, in pleasantly coloured enamelled brick, overlooking the courtyard. However, with the advent of ceramic exteriors, thought to be required to protect reinforced concrete buildings, he found a suitable medium for exuberant ornamentation. It is the case with his best-known work, the block of flats (1901) at 29, Avenue Rapp, Paris, commissioned by the potter Alexandre Bigot (1862-1927). Bigot probably wanted a façade that would give him publicity: the ornamental debauch conceived by Lavirotte proved effective since Bigot subsequently executed most of his Parisian façades in glazed stoneware.

Lavirotte created strange forms, with frequent and obvious erotic overtones and sometimes violent colours.