My house is a Le Corbusier (Appartement 50 – Unité d’habitation) by Cristian Chironi, Marseille
After Esprit Nouveau in Bologna and Studio-Apartment in Paris, Cristian Chironi takes his project My house is a Le Corbusier to a residency in Appartement 50, inside of the Unité d’habitation built by Le Corbusier in Marseille.
Simultaneously acting as work in progress, think tank, space of research and collaboration, exhibition and didactic platform in addition to residency, My house is a Le Corbusier has the ambition to grow during a long term period, during which Chironi will spend variable amounts of time within the walls of the many Le Corbusier complexes present around the world. The outcome of this growth means to take the form of all the experiences that Chironi might realise there.
This long term project will develop across 12 nations as a performance extended in time, home after home. They are “Pilgrim Homes” inescapably linked to the movements and intersections of a diversity of geographies and cultures.
Chironi’s point of departure is a true story. In the second half of the sixties the artist Costantino Nivola, who shared a deep friendship and a history of collaboration with architect Le Corbusier, was passing by the town of Orani (both Nivola’s and Chironi’s town of origin). There, in the hands of his brother “Chischeddu”, he left a signed project of the great architect in the hopes that Chischeddu and his sons (who were masons) would scrupulously follow its instructions for a house they were about to start building. However, the token’s importance was not received and some time later, after returning from Long Island, Costantino noticed that the house, which was ready, did not correspond at all to the characteristics of the original project. Costantino reacted by taking the project back. The house, which still stands, was built favouring working class functionality over the modernist idea (the same family declared “it had neither doors or windows and it looked more like a hovel than a home”) and it now bears, perhaps only the “mood” the original plan.
Drawing on this event, Cristian Chironi will detect potential narratives, necessary to the analysis of a series of contemporary relations which, depending on the context they are detected in, will carry with them certain linguistic and socio-political implications. He will immerse himself, during times of economic instability and precariousness, in the impossibility of owning a home and will exchange it with the freedom to live in Le Corbusier homes across the world.
In order to understand how the heredity of Le Corbusier is received today and in what conditions the “home of man” is, Chironi makes these homes into “privileged observation posts”. From this position he can, in return, offer a rendition of the architecture through narration and direct contact with its dimension of time and space; a place where to hold discussions and confrontations, where one can observe the artist at work, attend events, look through available documentation or simply have a coffee together.
Appartement 50 is the third stage of Chironi’s geography of inhabitation. This national historical monument, which usually welcomes exhibition projects and designers, will, on this exceptional occasion, open its doors to a project touching, in addition to design, several planes of expression. The apartment stands on two levels, its main characteristics are a sense of familial comfort and light coming through a large window on the south side of the building. L’Unité d’habitation was commissioned by the french government in 1945 as part of a plan to provide council homes to combat the housing crisis. Le Corbusier, whose ideas were equally invested in social research as they were in design, took this opportunity to redefine the importance of the domestic and collective space.
Looked at through the present time, the Unité d’habitation acquires further significance for Chironi. Today there is a sense of detachment between architecture and civil society, the tendency is to invest in spectacle rather than essential living necessities. Le Corbusier had anticipated some current problematics, for example the excessive growth of cities, the use of cheap construction solutions, the lack of habitable space and the changing relationship between neighbours. The third stage of this project will also be a chance to assert Le Corbusier’s ability to foresee the development of such issues.
Living in the Unite d’habitation in a time of forced migrations and asylum seeking, becomes even more valuable to Chironi. In the role of artist he calls for architecture and politics of construction to take an active role and think about new and affordable housing solutions. In the Cité Radieuse it is exactly the unity of personal and social needs that gives it its strength, by considering the living units as cells of a shared organism.
The construction Unité d’habitation was inspired by ideas of functionality and practicality that can be found on an ocean liner. Starting from this similarity Chironi embarks on a journey of homes, reestablishing connections, occasions of hospitality and giving particular attention to issues of the present time. The Unité d’habitation is thus steered as a ship across the mediterranean, along a journey of living.
During this course Chironi will try to get in contact with the living conditions and individual stories of his neighbours, near and far, by interacting with the communal areas of the complex (including the kindergarden, the roof terrace, the library and the other spaces of the shopping area) and at the same time with the cities of the mediterranean, in order to develop a vision of an open and united society. Rethinking the mediterranean, not as someone else’s problem, but as a place of belonging, reunification and rediscovery, for a new journey into research and form.
Over the years I have felt myself become more and more a man of everywhere but always with this firm attachment to the mediterranean : queen of forms under the play of light. (Le Corbusier)
Cristian Chironi’s experience at the Unité d’habitation will last one month and will be punctuated by a time of solitary work and one in which the visitor is welcomed to the apartment to interact and get to know the artist.
Running alongside My house is a Le Corbusier, a project dedicated to sound, My sound is a Le Corbusier, will carry on with three appointments: a “mise en abyme” recorded in the Appartement 50: a conversation between Cristian Chironi, the sound artist Alessandro Bosetti and the ghost of composer-architect Iannis Xenakis, who collaborated with Le Corbusier by applying musical elements onto architectural concepts and developing them together. The sound composition of Alessandro Bosetti will be printed on vinyl. A work by Cristian Chironi and musician Francesco Brasini will see as its subject the Mistral, a wind blowing from North West onto the architectural parts of the house as if blowing into a sail, and finally a field recording from the crypt of the basilica of Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde (the city’s symbol and protector of sailors and fishermen), will be offered as ex-voto.
The fiction writer Marcello Fois will contribute to the project My house is a Le Corbusier (Appartment 50 – Unité d’habitation) with a piece of text.
The live events will continue on the 29 of November, with a new version of the performance ECO, for which Chironi will sit for the whole day on the edge of the roof terrace. Looking at the horizon and carrying a book on the mediterranean under his arm, he will establish a personal and empathic relationship with the territory surrounding him, the unite d’habitation and with the city itself. A long lasting action, from dawn till sunset, during which time Chironi will remain in complete silence, listening to the calling of the sea and introducing an ideal bridge between North, South, East and West.
On the 10th and 11th of December, in Florence, two days of reflections on the theme of habitation in the XXI century will take place, created by Patrizia Mello (Department of Architecture, University of Florence) and Valentina Gensini (Le Murate. Progetti Arte Contemporanea), starting from Chironi’s experience as inhabiter of Le Corbusier’s houses. The meetings will make use of video projections, phone connections with Appartement 50 and discussions with students, researchers and a representative of Fondation Le Corbusier, (with the support of the Institute Français of Florence).
My house is a Le Corbusier (Appartement 50 – Unité d’habitation) is a project in collaboration with the Foundation Le Corbusier of Paris and the Appartement 50. With the support in the communication office of the institution Bologna Bologna Musei | MAMbo – Museo d’Arte Moderna di Bologna, MAN – Museo della Provincia di Nuoro, Xing Bologna and NERO.
Unité d’habitation Le Corbusier – Appartement 50, 5e rue, 280 boulevard Michelet, Marseille.
14 november > 13 december – period of residence
23 november > 13 december – individual visits by appointment: send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org