Minimum Living: 2 historical but current examples

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We keep on talking about micro homes or minimum apartments, but who were the first architects to think about this issue? First appointment with history.


Micro-houses once again, it’s a topic that never ceases to amaze. Have you ever thought about who has begun to start thinking about the issue of minimum housing?

To date, the theme of the tiny houses in which to live, seems more timely than ever; actually, few of the ideas we see around these days are invented properly from the architects.

Almost all the ideas applied in micro-homes are derived from the experiments of the great architects of the past, who were able to see the future and gave answers than ever at the forefront.

In this first appointment with the history of architecture, I want to show you two of the most amazing examples: Le Cabanon by Le Corbusier and The Room for a man by Franco Albini.

MINIMUM LIVING #1: LE CABANON BY LE CORBUSIER

Between 1951 and 1952 comes to life this small vacation home, designed in just 45 minutes. It lies between the Italian and French borders, on a hill overlooking the Roquebrune-Cap-Martin sea.

It occupies 3.6 meters by 3.6 meters, with a height of 2.26 meters. Incredible isn't it? What would you be able to store in so little space?

Le Corbusier filled the space with everything that was necessary (or almost): a bed, a table, the bathroom, the closet.

Basically, if you think about it, in a vacation home you do not need much things, to feel good: the bed to sleep, a bathroom, a roof to repair and the view of the sea.

Cabanon de Le Corbusier, Roquebrune-Cap-Martin
Photo : Olivier Martin-Gambier 2006
© FLC/ADAGP
Architecture is the wise, correct and magnificent game of volumes under the light. (Le Corbusier).

The kitchen is not there, because Le Corbusier went to eat in a nearby bar, but the big table to work could not be missing.

Conceived as the best birthday present for his wife Yvonne, it embodies the realization of the architect dreams of simplicity and solitude.

Every centimeter of the house is based on the modulor, a proportions system based on the geometry of the golden section and the study of man needed space to move around and live in dignity.

The final touch? The works of art created by Le Corbusier himself.

Cabanon de Le Corbusier, Roquebrune-Cap-Martin
Photo : Olivier Martin-Gambier 2006
© FLC/ADAGP

MINIMUM LIVING #2: A ROOM FOR A SINGLE MAN BY FRANCO ALBINI

This second house is even more incredible, if we think of the year in which it was conceived. We are in 1936, on the occasion of the VI Triennale, decoration theme.

Among the various exhibitions of the time, there was the furniture exhibition, which proposed solutions to the problems of modern furniture, serialization of furniture and spaces organization. Transforming furniture and the exclusion of valuable building materials.

Among the various projects, one stood for its daring and avant-garde design: the room for a man by Franco Albini.

A brand new idea of home overlooked during this exhibition. A minimum living space, designed for a single (!) and body lover man.

© Fondazione Franco Albini

Looking at the plan, we see the perfection of space organization: white linoleum squares, it looks like a naval battle.

In each square a specific element finds place, which delimits the living space. Many innovative features for that time: the transparent shower, a large bookcase full height with glass shelves, the loft bed …

But look also at the sports equipment or the wardrobe, designed in every detail: there is space for long dresses, for overcoats, for jackets, shoes with heels and not … well, nothing is left to chance.

What about the glass with gymnastic exercises? I bet many men today could live without problems in a house like this!

© Fondazione Franco Albini
© Fondazione Franco Albini