Unite d’Habitation through the lens of Paul Clemence
photographer Paul Clemens travel to Marseilles discover Le Corbusier‘s Unite d’Habitation, one of the most famous works of modernism. After his stay at the Hôtel le Corbusier, located on the third floor of the iconic building, the Brooklyn-based photographer offers new insights into the vertical city. Built in 1952, the project was first constructed in response to the baby boom and ensuing housing crisis in post-war France, and takes shape as a monumental, seventeen-story block built on a series of heroic pilotis.
Pictures © Paul Clemence / ARCHI PHOTO | @photobyclemence
Discover the concrete city in the sky
Exemplifying Le Corbusier’s call for a new modern architecture, Unite d’Habitation is brought to life with modernist innovations in a range of scales. An early example of the Brise-Soleil shows well thought-out, environmentally conscious details that integrate a sun protection system directly into the facade. At the same time, a modular logic ensures that each slim unit spans two levels, receiving sunlight and ventilation from both sides – this concept of a simple component that can be fitted together typifies Le Corbusier’s new school of thought.
Overall, the project is designed to function as a city, as a “living machine”, integrating all the necessary amenities for its residents to live. When first conceived, Unite d’Habitation was well-equipped with 330 units for 1,600 people, a post office, a two-story mall, a library, a restaurant, a hotel for visitors, a clinic, and a rooftop gym and running track. There was even a school on the eleven hectare site.
le corbusier’s mediterranean masterpiece
The design of Le Corbusier’s Unite d’Habitation takes folksy cues from the Mediterranean context – the French architect was heavily influenced by his early travels to Greece and Rome, drawing from his built landscape with ubiquitous white walls and roof gardens. More than historical styles, he applied the spatial ideas of urban fittings to his work. In this way, the project harmonises individual living with the “urban planning plan”.
The monumental block rises seventeen floors, its modular logic expressed along its patterned facade
The building rises on a series of heroic pilotis
Ora Ito’s art space MAMO (Marseille Modulor) is located on the roof (see designboom’s coverage here)