Kuma Words 21

Kuma Words 21

Recently, I was able to visit Le Corbusier’s apartment (completed in 1935) in Paris, where he resided, and I was guided by the architect who was actually in charge of its restoration.

Since we have become so acclimated to the impression of his apartment from black and white photos, and given the combination of glass block and black steel, my expectation was something of a businesslike, function-oriented architecture. However, to my pleasant surprise, the interior, and especially the top floor where he resided, betrayed my previous intuition completely. I could still feel his presence, even the warmth of his life.

I realized that most of us have only experienced Corbusier’s early works in monochrome, giving an altered impression of the architect.

To give you an example, the atelier where he painted had an exposed masonry party wall, providing warmth and gentleness to the space. Near this wall there was an old wooden shelf (see photo) that was passed on to Corbusier by his Swiss father, a clock smith, prompting a wonderfully humble moment.

I was also able to lay in his 90cm-high steel bed – at this height I felt as if I were floating above the town of Paris.

The closets where he kept jackets and coats was only 60cm wide for himself and his wife, which made me think about the non-materialistic nature of Corbusier. He believed only in the body and lived with it throughout his life, without paying the slightest attention to decorations – even in his clothing.

I also noted a pale blue grout between the white tiles, another detail masked by black and white photography. Everything was fresh and warm, and gave a direct message to us. The shower booth was made with thin concrete like a cave (see photo) and it reminded me of Corbusier’s residence in Algeria, which I know was his favorite.

An exposed masonry party wall
 An old wooden shelf
 The shower booth