La Cité Radieuse in Marseille
First broadcast date
Discovery of 'La Cité Radieuse’, in Marseille, designed by Le Corbusier, where the habitants tell their joy of living there, like Lilette Ripert, former schoolteacher in a kindergarten located on the terrace of the building, and who has known Le Corbusier; Isabelle Warnery, an architect, explains why she’s always been fascinated by this building.
François Loyer, researcher at CNRS and Eva Foster, a German architect, analyze the design of that place which has become a community of artists.
France 2 - Own production
- Forster Eva
- Warnery Isabelle
- Loyer François
- Le Corbusier
Urbanism and cities
Credits / Cast
- Manuel Valérie - Director
- Zorz Annie - Director
- Ripert Lilette - Participant
- France - South East - Marseille
The Cité radieuse in Marseille
In July 1952 the Cité Radieuse, a building on Marseille's Boulevard Michelet, was officially inaugurated by the minister of reconstruction, Eugène Claudius-Petit, accompanied by the architect Le Corbusier. The period of reconstruction immediately following the war was a perfect opportunity for certain architects to put forward new concepts of architecture and new building techniques. The towns which had suffered most during the war were particularly marked out for architectural experiments. Le Havre with Auguste Perret, but also Marseille, with the rebuilding of the old harbour and the building of la Cité Radieuse.
Having approached the public authorities several times, Le Corbusier was finally given a commission in 1946, direct from the ministry of reconstruction – a first in France – to build a residential block in Marseille. The architect decided to create a "laboratory for living", it was his chance to put into practice the theories of modern architecture which incorporated a new way of living. In 1943 Le Corbusier had helped draw up the Athens Charter which had launched functional urbanism and arcitecure, founded on the idea of "living, working, playing, moving about."
Everything was revolutionary in his residential unit of 337 flats which were planned to house nearly 1,500 people: putting it in an area of planted parkland (today we would say landscaped), its position in relation to the Boulevard Michelet – not parallel to the street but diagonal – the technique of building on rough-cast concrete stilts, the conception of the flats, the communal facilities in the building itself, the chromatic effect of the facades, the use of concrete shapes on the outside.
Bewilderment and criticism were rife and long-lasting, both in Marseille, where the building is called la maison du fada (the house of the nutter, or madman) and elsewhere – but also in the profession. The communal aspects and the use of rough-cast concrete were the most controversial.
Le Corbusier followed this experiment in new ways of thinking about one's habitat with other residential units: at Nantes-Rézé (1953-1955), at Briey, in Lorraine (1955-1957), at Firminy, near Saint-Étienne (1965-1967), and in Germany at Berlin-Tiergaten (1956-1958).
Gérard Monnier, Le Corbusier. Les unités d'habitation en France, Paris, Belin-Herscher, 2002.
Web-sites internet :