Housing (8) Unité d’habitation, Marseille

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Too many things have been written about this building, that Le Corbusier presented as a prototype of a happy and modern life. 337 appartments built between 1945 and 1952 as a block on columns in Marseilles. It is as much one of the ancestors of stigmatized neighborhoods of public housing  (that sometimes have even been destroyed by dynamite) as it predates some high luxury condos.

I will only say that maybe the main problem of its universal use as model is when the circulation spaces (inner streets) become spaces in which people stay for long periods (unemployment, marginality, or mere desperation and anguish) architecture can only go to a certain point. I have heard that, on the other side, such models have benefited of some success in countries such as Brasil, as they allow to use with some ease services into different parts of the building, as day care, without going through dangerous streets; this happens when the building is used by high revenue populations. So here we also have, to a certain extent, an ancestor of Gated Communities.

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The pool atop the building, overlooking the city. The green trees promised in the scheme meant leisure…

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The view from the swiming pool, with diverse building shapes.

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The inner street on an upper level, by the cafe

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The idea: you recover the space occupied by the building by having a green space on top (and cars park under the building)

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The space under the building (without cars)

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The entrance to the building

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A shop on the inner street

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