Eclectic is an interesting and intriguing movement in French architecture that began its story in the beginning of 20th century. Until the 30s, it was very popular among Western European societies. Of course, as a mainstream, the style didn’t remain only in Europe. It was brought to America with a slight change in details, shapes and forms. The newly discover style could be characterized by the following major differences:
1. Symmetrical style professionals can find origins of the symmetrical shapes in Renaissance. This style has been widely used for both small mansions and Royal palaces. Actually, this is a natural consequence after the French chateau architecture period. It was something needed and expected.
2. Asymmetrical style a definite disgruntlement from medieval design lines. Details from the Renaissance can also be found in some works.
3. Towered style originally, it became popular in the regions of Brittany and Normandy.
In the early period of the previous century the architecture shapes can be described as picturesque. Furthermore, they tend to either look like country cottages and farmhouses or follow some strict formal shapes typical for the Renaissance period. These can be classic details and precisely calculated elevations. Additionally, some of them have the character of medieval English architecture masterpieces.
After the time of widespread glory, the French style eclectic architecture disappeared from people’s mind. It later returned after the 70s in the so called mansard roof. Of course, it can be distinguished by its ancestor by the lack of precise proportion and attention to details. After that, in the late 20th century, some newly build mansions appeared that looked very much like the original Eclectic it was some kind of retrospective to the old glorious times.
Symmetrical French Eclectic Architecture
You should have in mind that French eclectic has never been so popular like the Spanish type of eclectic or the French colonial styles. Maybe its because it occupied such a small time frame compared to the other styles but facts are facts. As I have mentioned above, the style returns with some fascinating examples that reveal the beauty of the eclectic shapes. The so called neoeclectic buildings can be found in the country with impressive stone claddings and symmetrical facades. If you look at the image you will find the balanced harmony that comes from the house. Actually, it’s quite charming, isn’t it? And because we are talking about Eclectic, we should remain silent in front of the segmented arches, oval windows and firmly built chimney. And what about all those lovely Renaissance details that can be found on the facade? Did you also notice the round dormers? What a masterpiece! Personally, I think that the most attractive element of the house is the detailed relief of the arched pediment.
The next example reveals an impressive stucco cladding in a belt that wraps the entire building. The same prominent chimneys with their firm statement as in the previous example can be also found here. Now, heads up to the arch-topped dormers. Did you notice that the angles match with the huge arched windows on the ground level? Try again!
As for the second floor, I should outline that the windows are grouped uniquely, yet very carefully balanced. A slightly formal character is achieved by building the front entrance porch in a classic manner.
If you need to achieve a sense for a country living, they you need to go after wood, flat tile and slate. In the next house, the architects wanted to have exactly this kind of feeling when looking at it. Look again and note the shutters on the large French windows they simply contrast to the entire composition, thus creating great visual distinguishment. Did you know that these type of windows later evolved in what we call today French doors? Now you do! A great individual character has been achieved by placing this extraordinary shaped dormers.
Do you know what is the best about symmetrical architecture? It’s its ability to set an organized set of items, elements, details and everything that lead to a better perception at the building your are looking at. I really like it this way! In this particular example, you will see how the exterior view is formed by the quoins something commonly spread among French eclectic designs. Above the main roof shape you can find the hip dormer which adds an outstanding charm to the entire composition.
Asymmetrical French Eclectic Architecture
Mostly, the Eclectic French style can be characterized as asymmetrical. Most of the examples are exactly in this architecture subtype. To begin our journey in the world of asymmetrical shapes, let’s focus on the next house. It’s like a nested stone mansion under the massive slate roof. Elegance is the core feature of the building. Pay special attention to the roofline and the round top dormers that follow and complete the shape of the protrusive roof sections.
The central part is take by a mansard-shape roof section. Its is a natural sequel of the main entrance and the room just right above it. The second floor is arranged with beautiful casement windows. And the chimney massive at its best!
You may have noticed but in case you didn’t I must outline the great combination of bricks and stone which can be found in many examples of the French eclectic style. They form great detailed gutters and downspouts that are able to underline and set an unique character of every house they are used in. Remember that not all type of mansions allow using difference in technical approach. In some of them, however, the results are terrific!
A great combination that looks both country and city is really hard to be achieved. Despite the difficulties, this French inspired home has them both. If you have an eye for details, you will definitely spot the Norman-style cottage accents that complete the massive roof. Dormer windows are designed in two different sizes small rectangular shapes for the inner pair and a moderate sized for the outer one. An intimate entrance sets a note of romantic living in the atmosphere around the house.
The next visual example displays a totally contemporary mansion following the character of French eclectic. The exterior is formed by red bricks that clad the facade. A central symmetrical block makes this property an unique blend of symmetrical and asymmetrical shapes that couldn’t be found in many examples from the early 20s. The classic entrance and all the small signature elements underlines the strong personal character of this luxurious building that actually reflects the homeowners attitude to life being unique in every aspect! Arch, hip and gable dormers are also a part of this great composition. A true masterpiece.
Towered French Eclectic
Having in mind that asymmetrical type was the most common, I have to outline that the towered type is the least-common one. Its inspiration dates back to the medieval periods in the past. As a professional, I must declare the presence of medieval fortified compounds. Such elements can be only found in the ancient French rural settings, so there is no doubt for the origin of inspiration.
So, what about the towers? Well, most of them were used as entrances. Widely spread, the wooden front doors can be found in almost every particular example the goest into this subtype of French architecture. A beautiful blend of stucco and stone clads can be found on this house’s facade. In its nature, the building has a strictly asymmetrical shape but what makes it different from the asymmetrical subtype is the presence of tower.
As you can see, some contemporary elements can also be found in this towered French house. Again, the main entrance is placed beneath the tower. This time, the character is pure symmetrical shape with charming bay windows and eyebrow roofs. Did you notice how attractive this house looks? It’s like smiling to you!
The Tudors. Have you watched the famous Tv series? If you have, you may have come upon such kind of style. The next house represents the English Tudor style. Of course, in its core, it has very common similarities with the French eclectic. Note how the half-timber elements create a picturesque facade with charming elegance. This is not very common in the eclectic style but is not restricted at all. Additionally, the cladding is formed by patterned bricks that complete timber details.
Another fantastic combination between tower elements and symmetrical character. Massive chimneys and stucco-clad all these go very well here. The French eclectic style is underlined with the usage of hipped dormers above.