L’Etoile de mer
In 1947,Thomas Rebutato bought the small strip of land next to Villa E-1027, below the coastal footpath running next to the railway line. He wanted it to build a cabin that he could use to store his fishing rods and as a base for family picnics. In 1949, having ceased his activities as a plumber, he transformed it into a ‘bistro restaurant’. With its terrace affording panoramic sea views, its pergola, bamboo screening, bar and terraced garden, the Etoile de Mer evokes the spirit of an everyman’s seaside camping holiday in the Mediterranean. Le Corbusier also painted murals at the Etoile de Mer. Much appreciated by its owner, they adorned the facade and one of the bedroom walls.
The minimalist habitat
A prototype of the minimalist habitat, the original Etoile de Mer comprised a main room with kitchenette, a WC and a bedroom. On the sea facing side, the French window opens onto a 1.50m deep terrace that is also overlooked by the bedroom window. Between the back facade and the railway embankment, access is through a wooden door and a corridor. A shower is housed in a wooden shed built onto the low stone terraces. It is a lightweight prefabricated construction and the wooden frame is set onto load bearing concrete plinth blocks. The walls are made of fibre cement panels and the roof covering is corrugated fibre cement set on wooden joists. Ceilings are masonite and the floor is made of wooden boards.
Thomas Rebutato went on to enlarge and embellish his restaurant, installing a kitchen in the rear corridor, cementing the staircase to create a new entrance at its base. Having turned the main living area into a bar room, he decorated its counter and walls with his paintings. All the outside spaces form a veritable garden, where Thomas’s taste for outsider art can be seen in the borders made of broken bottles; walls and planters made of brick shards and pebbles gathered from the beach. The terrace and its pergola were turned into a huge summer dining room. Because Le Corbusier ate all his meals at the Etoile de Mer, the bedroom shared a communicating door with his Cabanon. Its door included a built-in safe for his wife’s jewellery.