The Unités de Camping
In 1956, in exchange for the plot of land for the Cabanon, Le Corbusier commissioned Barberis to build five holiday units for Rebutato that incorporated some of the same principles as the Cabanon. Grouped together on pilotis, they are an illustration of his work on affordable, modular holiday accommodation units for mass seaside tourism. Each one sleeps two people in 8 sqm and a horizontal T- shaped window, inspired by the modern trend for horizontal windows, frames the sea-facing landscape.
A Design Born Out of Friendship
Before the Cabanon, Le Corbusier had been studying projects for the ROB and ROQ holiday units. The ROB (short for Robert) project was designed for Cap Martin in collaboration with his friend Thomas Rebutato (who everyone called Robert). Intended for construction on the rocks below the Etoile de Mer, these holiday units were an application of the ‘226 x 226 x 226’ patent derived from the Modulor. The intention was to create a cellular habitat from steel sections, offering plenty of freedom for the use of space. Studies on the ROB project continued right up until 1955, when a severe storm revealed just how vulnerable the site was. These projects were never realised, but the Unités de Camping, comprising a set of five rooms for holiday lets extended the research.
From Restaurant Catering to Holiday Letting
As of 1957, Thomas Rebutato and his wife Marguerite added a further dimension to their catering business by opening their doors to holidaymakers attracted by the free and easy way of life at the seaside. Over and above their architectural importance, these holiday units enabled Thomas Rebutato to achieve his initial desire to increase the value of his land. When he built his prototype cabin the Etoile de Mer, (based on plans drawn up by Nice architect, F. Pietra), his original intention was to associate it with five other cabins to be sold as a small development.
Shortly after Le Corbusier died, he built three small kitchens between the pilotis under the Unités de Camping. When her husband died in 1971, Marguerite Rebutato kept the sandwich bar open and continued, until 1984, to let the furnished rooms to holiday makers.