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How Le Corbusier’s Original Interior Designs have been Finally Realized for this Berlin Apartment


60 years after the celebrated Brutalist architect fell foul of local authorities, a Berlin Unité d’Habitation apartment is refurbished to his original plans



Le Corbusier’s Unité d’Habitation apartment in Berlin, interior renovated by Philipp Mohr, 2018. Courtesy: Philipp Mohr; photograph: Didier Gaillard-Hohlweg


An apartment in the Le Corbusier-designed Unité d’Habitation in Berlin has finally had its interior refurbished according to the celebrated Swiss-French Brutalist architect’s original instructions. The German-American industrial designer Philipp Mohr has led the refurbishment, six decades after Le Corbusier’s interior design was drastically altered following a disagreement with German local planning authorities in 1958.


Le Corbusier’s Unité d’Habitation apartment in Berlin, interior renovated by Philipp Mohr, 2018. Courtesy: Philipp Mohr; photograph: Didier Gaillard-Hohlweg


Mohr bought the apartment in 2016 with the intention of renovating it and selling the property. On first entering, the apartment’s interior was starkly different to Le Corbusier’s original proposal. Speaking to Dezeen, Mohr said: ‘It was all entirely white and looked more like a prison, or the typical 1980s German social housing, than anything Corbusier had ever designed.’



Le Corbusier’s Unité d’Habitation apartment in Berlin, interior renovated by Philipp Mohr, 2018. Courtesy: Philipp Mohr; photograph: Didier Gaillard-Hohlweg


He completed the plans of the modernist architect after research in the archives of the Foundation Le Corbusier in Paris led him to realize that the Berlin apartment’s interior design was identical to that of Le Corbusier’s Unité d’Habitation in Marseille. In addition, Mohr chose a bright colour-scheme based on research into Le Corbusier’s writings on colour theory. He lowered the ceiling and manipulated the walls according to the original plans. Pieces of furniture and lighting fixtures by Le Corbusier were purchased by Mohr to keep the apartment period-specific – he even included Corbusier books sourced from antique shops.


Le Corbusier’s Unité d’Habitation apartment in Berlin, 2017. Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons; photograph: A. Savin


Le Corbusier’s Unité d’Habitation concept (realized as a series of housing developments across Europe, with Marseille hosting the original) embodies the architect’s housing principles – ‘a machine for living in’, he wrote in 1927 – in a high-density block. The 53-metre-high Berlin block, located in West Berlin close to the Olympic Stadium, has 530 apartments, many of which are double-storey properties, and is universally regarded as an iconic piece of postwar brutalist architecture.


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