In 1922 Le Corbusier exhibited the Citrohan House and a plan for a Contemporary City. The two ideas were developed in tandem and provided a blueprint for a new way of urban living. Whereas the Contemporary City would have required massive state intervention, the Citrohan House was intended to evolve directly from industrial production and market forces. The Citrohan House (the name evoking Citroën cars) embodied the ideas enunciated in Vers une architecture (1923). In that book Corbusier had argued for a house to be mass-produced, to work as efficiently as a motor car, and to function effectively as a machine for living in. The Citrohan concept was intended to provide standardized model to meet the demand for affordable housing. Le Corbusier designed two versions of the Citrohan House, both of which were intended to be prefabricated in order to provide cheap, rapidly constructed but permanent, high-quality accommodation. Both versions had flat roofs and roof terraces with a double-height main living area, in which a double-height window, made from industrial glass, occupied one wall, flooding the interior with light. The second version was raised above the ground on cylindrical posts, or piloti, providing parking, garage and boiler-room space at ground level. There was also a large balcony, which wrapped around the front and sides of the building on the first-floor level, with an external staircase. Kitchen, bathroom, bedrooms and a maid’s room were located to the rear, with some sleeping accommodation provided on the gallery of the living room, accessed via an internal spiral staircase. The Citrohan Houses were intended, like automobiles, to revolutionize the housing market, not to provide minimum dwellings for those on the lowest incomes.
‘Maison Citrohan II’
Le Corbusier (1887–1965)
Designed and made 1922
135 x 81 x 82cm
© Fondation Le Corbusier, Paris
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