Cabanon was designed by Le Corbusier as a vacation home for the summers as the architect maintained a months vacation every year with religious rigour. Every year after developing his preoccupation with the area, Petit Cabanon became a frequent stop for Le Corbusier.
Immediately before creating Petit Cabanon, Le Corbusier had published Le Modulor in which he developed his own proportional system similar the the golden rectangle. Corbusier previously had presented the idea that buildings and homes were living machines, which is to say that they are a mechanical apparatus in which we live. Rationality was integral to Corbusier's design in the pre-war years which produced his most prolific building, Villa Savoye. However, upon arriving on the Mediterranean coast, Corbusier began to collect flotsam and shells that washed up on the shore. Although they are not his only inspiration, the shells he collected were an important part of le modulor and they represent a distinct shift in Corbusier's approach to design. While rationality had first dominated his design, no natural forms not only influenced proportions but also instinct became the focus of design and rationality became the result of instinct.
Le Modulor appears in his projects around the same time such as the Unite d'Habitation in Marseilles. Cabanon, however, is pure modulor from the size of the floor plan to the ceiling height. Petit Cabanon is expresses a new style of living that is not evident in his earlier works. Up until the point of Petit Cabanon's conception he had his only residence on the top floor of a paris apartment building where he had both his painting studio and also his living quarters.
Far from rustic on the interior, cabanon still provides a compacted form of monastic living that was generally absent from his famous villas before World War 2.
Petit Cabanon was built in as part of a transition in Le Corbusier's work. It was one stage in his perfection of single room living. Corbusier created with his public housing projects a modular layout where the rooms, or cells, facilitated a monastic lifestyle, where inhabitants had private space to meditate and write. His cells also provided views of nature and the communal areas, much like a monastery.
His design of Petit Cabanon was a way of perfecting his design of a cell, which he made to the minimum size that was considered by modernists to be acceptable living space. In twelve square metres, Corbusier was able to provide himself with a comfortable living space and also exercise his newly developed modular system, which reflected in this design the spiral pattern of a seashell.
Posted by: Jason McMillan
Edited by: Meghan Robidoux