The Accused Cabin

The ‘Harmonic Spiral’, a coiled, shell-like diagram that articulates a series of decreasing measurements relating to the proportions of Modulor Man, is a visual device Le Corbusier references throughout his oeuvre, both in built and painted works. At Chandigarh, he presents us with perhaps the purest interpretation of this spiral form translated into a functional object, in the shape of the Accused Cabin. This exceptional piece is derived directly from the proportions of the golden section, being generated from a plan extrusion of the harmonic spiral. The centripetal, shell-like form clasps the occupant while also creating a powerful focus to the mise en scène. Intended solely to contain the person being interrogated, it was strategically positioned under the inclined weight of the parasol roof, as if to impose the whole weight of the building onto the shoulders of its occupant.

It is clear from even the earliest drawing produced in Paris that the spiral was central to Le Corbusier’s plan for the courtrooms, and it remained a constant feature across various iterations of the plan. The final composition positions the spiral of the Accused Cabin into a strictly orthogonal plan, epitomizing Le Corbusier’s often-used technique of juxtaposing sculptural forms and curves against an overriding rectilinear order.

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