Many associate the architect Le Corbusier with the idea of the house as a machine for living – or with radical urban plans involving high-rise housing blocks and efficient traffic systems. He was obsessed with the machine. And yet his fascination with nature had a significant impact on his work, as both an architect and a painter.

With reproductions of sketches, drawings and paintings, the exhibition presents Le Corbusier’s work as a visual artist in the period 1926–36. In these years, he visited Le Piquey in Bassin d’Arcachon, a bay on the southwest coast of France, each summer. It was a place for recreation, far from the urban distractions of Paris. He tirelessly sketched whatever he found on the beach: boats, shells, cones, driftwood and stones. Later, back in his atelier in Paris, he reworked and abstracted the motifs in his paintings.

He also wrote enthusiastically about how the fishermen built their cabins as a natural response to their daily routines and the climate: “These houses are palaces!” The exhibition shows examples of how his architecture changed around 1930. Now he started to design houses with rubble stone walls and wooden structures: a far cry from the Modernist aesthetic of his earlier villas, with their smooth plaster walls.

The exhibition is a collaboration with Professor Emeritus Tim Benton and the artist Bruno Hubert.