Pierre Charpin refits Apartment N°50
in Le Corbusier's Cité Radieuse

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An apartment at Modernist architect Le Corbusier's Cité Radieuse housing block in Marseille has undergone a colourful refit by French designer Pierre Charpin (+ slideshow).

Pierre Charpin refits Apartment N°50 in Le Corbusier's Cité Radieuse

Pierre Charpin installed furniture and artwork at Apartment N°50 as part of a series of installations commissioned by owner Jean-Marc Drut, which has included refits by the Bouroullec brothers and Konstantin Grcic.

Pierre Charpin refits Apartment N°50 in Le Corbusier's Cité Radieuse

Cité Radieuse was completed by Le Corbusier in 1952 as the first of his Unité d'Habiticion series of Modernist housing estates.

Pierre Charpin refits Apartment N°50 in Le Corbusier's Cité Radieuse

"The Cité Radieuse is an iconic building, but the inside of the apartments is largely unknown to visitors," Drut told Dezeen. "Even if full size reproductions have been exhibited in various museums around the world."

Pierre Charpin refits Apartment N°50 in Le Corbusier's Cité Radieuse

Although tourists can explore the public spaces and rooftop of the building, they don't usually have access to the private apartments to experience their layout and interiors.



Pierre Charpin refits Apartment N°50 in Le Corbusier's Cité Radieuse

"I thought it was a shame that most visitors, coming from all over the world, could experience all these parts of the building, without being able to have an inside view of the apartments," said Drut.

Pierre Charpin refits Apartment N°50 in Le Corbusier's Cité Radieuse

The apartment includes original furniture by Modernist designers Charlotte Perriand and Jean Prouvé, as well as by Le Corbusier himself. With each of the installations, Drut wanted to reinvigorate the interior in keeping with these pieces and bring it up to date.

Pierre Charpin refits Apartment N°50 in Le Corbusier's Cité Radieuse

"I could have kept this apartment like a historical display with Perriand, Prouvé and Corbusier furniture, but I felt more interesting to re-activate it with contemporary designs and see if it was still relevant in the 21st century," he said.

Pierre Charpin refits Apartment N°50 in Le Corbusier's Cité Radieuse

Charpin's refit includes his own colourful glassware, ceramics and furniture, arranged around the space to look as natural as possible.

Pierre Charpin refits Apartment N°50 in Le Corbusier's Cité Radieuse

"Pierre Charpin has brought plenty of colours and joy to the apartment," said Drut. "He is playing a lot with the strong light of the Mediterranean, with his amazing glass vases for Galerie Kreo and Venini for example, and he plays with the architectural lines."

Pierre Charpin refits Apartment N°50 in Le Corbusier's Cité Radieuse

The designer's linear drawings are mounted in bright frames, sized according to the Modulor measurement system that Corbusier defined and used throughout his work.

Pierre Charpin refits Apartment N°50 in Le Corbusier's Cité Radieuse

The apartment was in its original condition when Drut took ownership. He asked British designer Jasper Morrison to complete the first installation in 2008. Morrison then chose Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec for the next iteration in 2010, who in turn selected Grcic for 2013.

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Each designer has had free reign over the design, providing they don't change the colours of the walls or alter any of the existing furniture.

Pierre Charpin refits Apartment N°50 in Le Corbusier's Cité Radieuse

"It is all about transmission and sharing a mutual passion and interest," said Drut. "There is no brief, no constraints, apart from the obvious respect for such a place."

Pierre Charpin refits Apartment N°50 in Le Corbusier's Cité Radieuse

Charpin's installation will be in place until 15 August, while the apartment remains occupied.

Pierre Charpin refits Apartment N°50 in Le Corbusier's Cité Radieuse

The rooftop of Cité Radieuse was opened to the public last summer as a contemporary art space masterminded by French designer Ora-Ïto. The building was damaged in a fire in 2012.

Pierre Charpin refits Apartment N°50 in Le Corbusier's Cité Radieuse

Le Corbusier's seminal Maison Dom-Ino was built as a full-scale model for this year's Venice Architecture Biennale, while earlier this year his Notre Dame du Haut chapel at Ronchamp was vandalised. See more stories about Le Corbusier »