Radiant city of Marseille


October 28, 2021

The Marseille housing unit - also known as the Cité radieuse de Marseille, Cité radieuse, Le Corbusier or more colloquially La Maison du fada - is a residence built between 1947 and 1952 by the architect Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, better known under the pseudonym of Le Corbusier (1887-1965). La Cité Radieuse is located at 280 boulevard Michelet in Marseille in the Sainte-Anne district, in the 8th arrondissement. Built in the form of a bar on stilts (in the form of flared legs with a brutalist aspect), it attempts to materialize a new form of city, a “vertical village” called “Housing Unit”. The residence has 337 apartments of 23 different types separated by "interior streets" (the "standard" apartment is a duplex) and a hotel with 21 rooms. A shopping arcade exists on the third street with various shops accessible all year round to the public. In June 2013, the rooftop gymnasium was converted into an exhibition space by the French designer Ora-ïto, who set up an artistic foundation, the MaMo (Marseille Modulor). The site is inscribed, along with sixteen other architectural works by Le Corbusier, on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2016.


After World War II, France needs to rebuild itself. At that time, the lack of social housing was a problem that needed to be resolved quickly. It was in this context that the French state placed an order in 1946 from Le Corbusier: the construction of a housing unit in Marseille. He then asks him to "show a new art of building that transforms the way of living". Thus, Eugène Claudius-Petit, Minister of Reconstruction, affirms that Le Corbusier "brings a new solution to this housing problem and transforms housing into a real public service" in Marseille. The first stone was laid on October 14, 1947. The Cité radieuse was finally inaugurated on October 14, 1952, after five years of work. This innovative construction, breaking with tradition, was quickly given the nickname of "the house of the fada" by some inhabitants of Marseille. Today classified as a historic monument by decree of October 12, 1995, the Cité radieuse, an experimental building from its inception, is increasingly visited by tourists and its accommodation is becoming more attractive to a population of executives and intellectual professions. . A serious fire took place at the Cité Radieuse on February 9, 2012 ,,. In 2019, the entire urban park is listed as a Historic Monument, notably with the household waste collection station and a house located at the corner of the west entrance.

Architectural principle

Le Corbusier defines the home as the container "of a family". This container can be inserted not in a traditional building but in a “load-bearing framework”, designed as a reception structure. Le Corbusier will define a basic cell. It will give birth to a set of two cells oriented east / west and nested around an interior street. It thus results in a common floor system which is organized on three levels. Between the cells on either side of the building are wide corridors. They are designed as a space for movement and meeting between residents. Between the 3rd and 4th floors, an even larger corridor, the ambulatory, faces the sea. Like Le Corbusier's other housing units, the Cité radieuse in Marseille is designed on the principle of Modulor, a system of measurements linked to human morphology based on the golden ratio and the Fibonacci sequence, calculated by the quotient of his height (1.83 m) by the height of his navel (1.13 m) which is 1.619, or the golden ratio to the nearest thousandth. This is moreover illustrated by an emp

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