Designed and built in 1952, Unite d’Habitation in Marseille, France, is one of Le Corbusier’s most iconic and innovative structures and was the celebrated architect's first large-scale project.
Also known as Cité Radieuse (Radiant City), the apartment complex was commissioned as an innovative post-war housing concept. The multifunctional building focused on communal living, providing services which allowed residents to live, shop, play, and even go to school, all under one roof.
A massive horizontal volume, the imposing concrete, Brutalist construction is supported by huge columns, calling to mind an ocean liner with a honeycomb of apartments, shops, galleries, and hotel suites dispersed throughout.
The building’s vertical layout contained 337 duplex apartment modules meant to accommodate up to 1,600 residents. Each module was three stories high and housed two apartments, each with two levels. The modules spanned the length of the building, and each apartment opened to a small terrace.
On every third floor, between the modules, Le Corbusier placed a wide corridor that ran the length of the building and served as an interior commercial street with shops, restaurants, and recreational facilities. Some of the most interesting exterior spaces were dedicated to the rooftop, where a small plunge pool, a children’s school, and a playground overlook the city and coast.
Punctuated with ribbons of primary colors, massive rooftop terraces, and unique commercial spaces, the building was designed to offer all the services needed for living. However, the complex also features surprisingly intimate interiors.
Located on the only shopping floor of the building, just steps from a gourmet restaurant, bakery, and retail shops, this bright and cheerful studio space was discovered and renovated by a French couple after the unit was partially damaged by a fire.
They worked to carefully restore the unit to showcase the creativity and originality of the design. The oak flooring and the interiors have all been faithfully restored to their original state and renovated according to the specifications of Bâtiments de France (ABF).
The intimate design faces a balcony which floods the compact space with natural light. The living area features a cleverly disguised Murphy bed that doubles as the sofa.
The unusual bathroom was designed in the style of a ship’s cabin, a motif which is repeated throughout the building.
Instead of sticking with a purely midcentury theme, the owners collaborated with designer, antiques dealer, and decorator Regine Venot and her son Guilhem Faget, who furnished the unit with a mix of contemporary and vintage pieces that perfectly complement this iconic piece of architectural history.
Available to rent through Boutique Homes starting at €75 ($91) a night, the studio is a milestone in the development of urban housing that you can experience yourself.
Architect : Le Corbusier
Interior Design: Collaboration with Regine Venot