Built at the beginning of the 50s, the Cité Radieuse in Marseille is one of the famous “unites d’habitation” (housing block unit) designed by Le Corbusier. Extremely modern for its time, this concrete building with splashes of colour holds 1600 residents, a school, a swimming pool, shops and even a contemporary art centre.
The Cité Radieuse: friendly housing
When creating the Cité Radieuse in 1952, Le Corbusier had one idea in mind: to make a 9-storey concrete building an actual village.
In this way, the cité provided, on top of 337 apartments, several services.
Both practical and cultural, there were shops (delicatessen, fish monger’s, bakery, pharmacy...) offices, a gym, a pool... And even a primary school with a playground on the roof, 180ft off the ground!
At this time, shortly after the Second World War, it was an innovative idea that caused some controversy.
Today the Cité Radieuse is listed as a Historical Monument.
Made from oak wood, the duplex apartments designed by Le Corbusier are warm, practical and comfortable all at once.
The residences have well thought-out storage space (many cupboards/closets) and good lighting thanks to large bright windows and sliding glass doors.
The Cité Radieuse, a place of life open to visitors
The eye-catching concrete front is tinted red, yellow, green and blue.
Go through the door of this stunning building and discover the life that it holds. The thriving spirit of the residents at Cité Radieuse is still prominent, as well as the majority of services that were initially set up here (bookshop, hotel, grocers, brasserie...).
The building is open to all visitors, but a professional guide will give you a tour including the inside of one of the Historic Monument listed apartments.
On the 3rd floor, discover the “rue des commerces” (shop street). “Street” is the way the cité names its various floors.
With its landscaped terrace, the rooftop paddling pool and playground are still a fun place for children. It also boasts a splendid view of Marseille and the Mediterranean Sea.
Also on the roof terrace, discover the old gym which since 2013 has been transformed into a centre of contemporary art: the MaMo. It has hosted works by great artists like Daniel Buren.
Other unites d’habitation in France
In France, three other unites d’habitation by Le Corbusier are open to visit:
- La Maison Radieuse in Rezé, near Nantes;
- The Le Corbusier Site in Firminy, near Saint-Etienne;
- La Cité Radieuse in Briey-en-Forêt, near Metz.
La Cité Radieuse
280 boulevard Michelet