Great People and Their Cabins - Le Corbusier March 06, 2009 11:25

Is the cabin an essential component to refining one’s genius? An especially strong argument for this opens in London today as part of the Royal Institute of British Architects Le Corbusier - The Art of Architecture survey. The RIBA is exhibiting a full scale model of Le Corbusier’s Cabanon . The micro cabin he built in Cap - Martin on the French Riviera in 1952. Designed in less than an hour and coming in at a mere 16 square meteres (about 172 square feet) the Cabanon was the only building this master architect of the 20th century built for himself. Corbusier referred to it as both "my castle on the Riviera" and " my smallest machine for living in"…"where not a square cm of space was wasted". The contrast of these statements one from another is equally matched by the contrast of the surprisingly modest shed like appearance of the outside with the extensively detailed interior. An interior that is both laboratory for Le Corbusier’s thesis of buildings as machines for living, and as a sensible place for a man and his wife to spend their summers.

From the time of the Cabanon’s completion, Le Corbusier would spend 10 consecutive summers working out of a neighboring studio on many works that would further cement his place in history as a giant of 20th century architecture. Most notable of buildings he would complete during that time would be Notre Dame du Haut at Ronchamp in 1955 . Was it designed in part over the course of leisurely summer days at Corbu’s Cabanon and studio?

Hard to say for certain but it’s tempting to argue the point given that Notre Dame stands out from his works as the single departure from his classic machine aesthetic in that it was designed specifically for the natural setting of the Ronchamp site itself. Those summer days at the cabanon surrounded by the sea and the landscape must have been persuasive. Funny how life at a well designed cabin can do that.

Interior detail of Cabanon

Interior detail of Cabanon

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