Corbusier's Cabanon at RIBA
Representative of the architect's commitment to minimalist living without unnecessary frills and decor, the 45-square-foot Cabanon, or "cabinette," was designed in a mere 45 minutes as a gift to his wife. Built in 1952 in Cap-Martin on the Cote d'Azure, the cabin served as a vacation home and retreat for the architect, sitting adjacent to a little studio where some of his formative work took place.
Though "extravagant in comfort and kindness" the cabin had an unassuming exterior with most of the design work going to the interior. Fastidiously planned, it was designed around the scale of the human body, permitting maximum space efficiency and using light to give a sense of expansiveness. The inside met basic everyday needs and featured built-in furniture, including a small sink for shaving, shelves and cupboards for storage, a bed and a large table.
The interior is warm and inviting, swathed entirely in plywood, with skylights letting in light along with a couple of modest sized windows that allowed for a breeze and a view. The tiny seaside hut was quite a departure from his previous project, the Unité d'Habitation, the 12-story concrete housing project that went on to set the tone for monolith housing structures in urban centers.
To coincide with the exhibition, Blueprint and Cassina are hosting a competition for visitors to design their own retreat in 45 minutes. See the impressive entries here and a video walk through of the interior on the Guardian site. The exhibit will be up until April 28th, 2009.