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A house – and a history – overshadowed by a cabin


Eileen Gray's villa

Le Corbusier’s seaside cabin at Roquebrune-Cap Martin (between Monaco and Menton) is a rather flimsy structure.    But this unassuming little wooden building has been familiar to fans of modern architecture since the ’50s when international photographer,  Lucien Hervé, immortalised ‘le Cabanon’ and its famous proprietor. Hervé’s architectural photographs  introduced Le Corbusier’s work to a wide audience extending from Europe to North and South America and India.

As a result the modest seaside cabin perched on its clifftop site is regularly visited by individuals and experts from all over the world. Film crews also take an interest, with Hungarian TV being the latest visitor.  Architectural historians often regard the stark contrast between light and shade created by Le Corbusier’s work as the purest expression of the Bauhaus architectural style. Walter Gropius founded the’ Bauhaus School in 1919 in Weimar, Germany and the institution became famous for its revolutionary styles – and students – of architecture, design, photography, costume and even dance.

Eileen Gray

Eileen Gray

Yet the white house in front of the cabin is an equally significant building.  Behind its rather odd name – the formula E-1027, disturbingly redolent of food additives or incarceration – lurks an extraordinary,  even historic construction. It is a substantial seaside villa  in the modern style, built to her own design and for her own use by Anglo-Irish architect and furniture designer, Eileen Gray, a pioneer of the Modern Movement.  Miss Gray’s career had its heyday in the first two decades of the last century, and she died a recluse in Paris in 1976.

It would be wonderful to see this neglected building restored and replaced in its rightful place –  which is, who knows, right next to Le Corbusier!

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  1. 24/08/2009 22:41

    That does sound like a fascinating project and the building is in such a lovely setting. I bet it will be interesting to visit when it is completed.

  2. Minnie permalink
    25/08/2009 00:05

    Cherie: I’ll keep you posted. The whole place is lovely. Inland there’s a mediaeval hilltop village (complete with castle – I think you’d like the herb/vegetable garden overlooked by an open-air theatre), a 1,000 year-old olive tree and plenty of paths for walkers.

  3. 25/08/2009 14:14

    Do you think Le Corbusier would have been disappointed by people ruining his view?

  4. Minnie permalink
    25/08/2009 14:28

    WW: Le Corbusier’s cabanon was built in 1952; Eileen Gray’s villa had been there since 1927.

  5. 26/08/2009 02:40

    I’m so glad the house is going to be restored. I have long admired Gray’s work [though I could never afford any!]

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