Unite d’Habitation | Cité Radieuse by Le Corbusier

Unité d’Habitation which is the famous housing project of Le Corbusier, has accomplished to be one of the most effective projects of the architecture history since it designed. In addition, the building has been the source of inspiration for mass housing projects. Unite d’Habitation, located in Marseille (France), also known as Cité Radieuse meaning Shining City.

What was the purpose of Unite d’Habitation?

Architectural movements and building designs are successful to the extent they overcome the problems that they encounter. After the Second World War, people have faced a lack of housing. Le Corbusier designed the Unité d’Habitation project to offer a solution to this problem.

The conceptual idea behind the project was designing a mass housing project that become self-sufficient. Le Corbusier who is not only an architect but also an urban planner, has looked for ways to provide urban people live together with the most economic way. Therefore, he carried out this important project which functioning almost like a small city.

The architect has solved all the spaces, activities and needs, which a person looking for when he/she live inside a city, in one concept with a communal way. This structure designed for the labour class is a machine which is embodiment of functionality, so to speak.

The rectangle building spreading on the axis of south-north has green areas around itself. Unité d’Habitation has also spaces satisfying a person’s most need functions like a school, game areas, gyms, pool, theatre, shops, hotel, and health center. This huge building, which can host about 1600 people, consists of 18 floors and 337 flats.

Architecture of Unite d’Habitation

The relationship of Cité Radieuse with green areas has been not interrupted thanks to the colonnade system raising the building. In addition, the ground level has been left empty for common use.

Le Corbusier is an important architect who is one of the leads of Brutalism and first come to mind when we speak of Brutalism perhaps. We can say that Unite d’Habitation, which was opened for use in 1955, is one of the most effective examples of Brutalist architecture style in the aspect of both aesthetic and function.

Facades that were denudated by Le Corbusier with the exposed concrete, has been balanced with interior walls which have many colours such as yellow, red and green. This effect has gave a novel touch to rough appearance of buildings designed with Brutalist style.

The colonnade system designed on the ground floor of Unite d'Habitation of Le Corbusier
Unite d’Habitation

Corbusier, who frequently used pilotis in his buildings, also got the building carried on a colonnade system in the Habitation project. In addition to these, he integrated his modulor system to the building so successfully.

Is it still standing?

The works of Le Corbusier are important architectural buildings for both the architecture and world history. Therefore, Unité d’Habitation was added to the list of UNESCO Cultural Heritage just like Villa Savoye in 2016.

After this structure built, habitation units so similar with Corbusier’s building were constructed in the different cities of Europe. Berlin, Nantes, Briey and Firminy are places that similars of this utopic city of Corbusier designed. Corbusierhaus in Berlin such similar to the prototype of it in Marseille, isn’t it.

Corbusierhaus which is an example of Unité d'Habitation and located in Berlin
Corbusierhaus in Berlin
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