Dezeen Magazine

Le Corbusier-designed barge sinks in Seine flooding

A 1910s barge, fitted out by Le Corbusier to be a homeless shelter for the Salvation Army, has sank during flooding of the Seine river in Paris.

Named the Louise Catherine, the 70 metre-long concrete barge, which was renovated by Le Corbusier in 1929, sank on the 8 February 2018 as the Seine's water levels dropped following a period of flooding.

The craft, which was declared a historical monument of the city of Paris in 2008, was in the process of being renovated to become a museum and cultural centre.

"Today Louise Catherine rests on the bed of the Seine," said a statement from the Le Corbusier Foundation.

The Louise Catherine barge, designed by Le Corbusier, is now sitting on the bed of the River Seine

The renovation was being carried out by the Louise Catherine Association, which purchased the craft from the Salvation Army in 2006, 11 years after the floating shelter had closed.

Plans are now underway to refloat the Louise Catherine and continue the restoration, in an effort to open to the public in 2019 to coincide with the craft's 100th anniversary.

The barge was in the process of being converted into a museum and cultural centre before it sunk

The Louise Catherine Association intend to float the barge once the water level of the Seine returns to normal. Following an inspection by divers, water will be pumped from the barge, allowing it to return to the surface, continued the Le Corbusier Foundation's statement.

If the restoration progresses on schedule, the first exhibition in the new cultural space would feature works by Japanese architects that are "passionate about this story and the work of Le Corbusier", timed to celebrate 150 years of Franco-Japanese friendship.

The barge had been moored near Austerlitz Station, in the southeast of Paris.

According to the Foundation, the barge's bow was caught on the edge of the wharf as water levels dropped, angling the craft and allowing water to enter. Despite the efforts of the fire brigade, the barge sunk and is now sitting on the river bed.

Originally built in 1915 to transport coal from Rouen to Paris the barge was acquired by the Salvation Army in 1929, before being converted into a homeless shelter by Le Corbusier.

The architect installed 160 beds in the barge, along with dining rooms, kitchens, toilets, sinks, showers, and apartments for the boatsman and director. A hanging garden was placed on top.

Photography is by Fondation Le Corbusier