The cité radieuse which means “the magnifiscent town” is an emblematic architectural project built in the 50’s by Le Corbusier.
After the war, the need for housing was a priority.The idea of building residential towers was a symbol of modernity as well as the most convenient.
This massive building of 337 appartments, initially social housings, took 5 years to build and was immediately considered by the people as an eyesore on the landscape.At first nobody wanted to go and live there, it was named “the house of the crazy guy” by the people and was perceived as a prison.
La cité radieuse a unesco world heritage
Today, it is a co-ownership, a Unesco world heritage and one of the most visited monument of Marseille.
The cité radieuse is praised for its originality and convenience as it was thougt and organised by Le Corbusier as a city within the city.
It includes a hotel, a school, a kindergarden, a theater, many shops and offices, an art gallery , a café and an incredible rooftop where you can enjoy a panoramic view of Marseille.
“The light creates the atmosphere and the sensations of a place as well as the expression of the structure”
However, what strucked me when I was there is the feeling you have.
It is very ambivalent. On one hand the light inside the building is absolutely amazing, the architecture was studied to let the sunrays penetrate beautifully which gives it a very relaxing atmosphere.
But at the same time it feels as if every wall, every block was trying to crush you.The geometry of the building, the volumes, the structure leaves you with a strange feeling. The feeling that you are in a box with everything you need around to sustain yourself. A few books have been published that tarnish the image we have of Le Corbusier where we learn that his work was actually inspired by fascist ideas.
Le Corbusier named the appartments he made “a housing unit of congruent magnitude”. Charming isn’t it?
280 boulevard Michelet
Open all year 9:00 am 6:00pm
Métro L1 Rond point du Prado then bus 22