The Radious Cité - Visit of Le Corbusier masterpiece in Marseille in Provence
Updated: May 24
My name is Angela. I would like to tell you about the excursion I did with Virginie during my immersion in Provence.
During my second one-month immersion with Virginie, I wanted to return to Marseille. We started the day with a city tour. Then we visited the Basilica of Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde. Finally, we went to the Cité radieuse.
Presentation of the Cité Radieuse
La Cité Radieuse is a building built by Le Corbusier in the 1950s. The building was a revolutionary concept at that time. Le Corbusier wants to build a building with everything people might need.
The Cité radieuse is built in the form of a bar on stilts. There are 337 apartments separated by interior streets. There are more than 1500 inhabitants. It's a real little village on its own. This project seems so crazy that the Cité Radieuse is called the “Maison du Fada”. Fada is a Provençal word which means “crazy”.
The Cité Radieuse's story
At the end of the Second World War, France needed social housing. This is why in 1946 she asked Le Corbusier to build a housing unit.
Work began in 1947. The Cité Radieuse was inaugurated on October 14, 1952. That same day, Eugène Claudius Petit, Minister of Urban Reconstruction, presented the tie of Commander of the Legion of Honor to Le Corbusier.
In 1954, the Cité became a co-ownership: it was divided into lots and sold by the State.
In 1986, part of the Cité (facades, hall, streets, an apartment and the roof terrace) was classified as a Historic Monument.
The site has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2016.
Architecture of the crazy house
The building was constructed of concrete because according to Le Corbusier, concrete does not need ornaments.
The facade of the building has been painted with primary colors that give it a “radiant” look.
To build the Cité Radieuse, Le Corbusier created a unit of measurement called the Modulor. The Modulor is represented by a man of 1.83 meters or 2.26 meters with his arm raised.
The apartments have been designed to accommodate families with a bedroom for the parents and a bedroom for the children. The apartments cross the building from side to side.
So each apartment has a window on each side. The kitchen overlooks the living room. It was built so that women can cook easily and can continue to enjoy their families. There are large bay windows which can be opened completely and increase the size of the room.
Several pieces of furniture have been integrated into the apartment to make it easier for families to settle there: some people having lost everything during the Second World War.
The bathroom looks like a boat cabin.
A whole concept
Le Corbusier really wanted the inhabitants to form a real community.
The Cité Radieuse is 137 meters long, 56 meters high and 24 meters wide, the size of 12 whales and 12 giraffes on top of each other.
La Maison du Fada does not only include apartments. It also includes offices and various shops such as a café. The bakery had just closed its doors and was looking for a buyer at the time of our visit.
On the roof there is also a school and a swimming pool. There is also a place for people to play sports and watch movies.
During our visit, I also saw mosaics from “Space Invader”, a famous street art artist.
Over time, however, the Cité Radieuse lost its vocation as social housing to become a very popular building.
The Cité Radieuse is an unusual visit. This is a very nice discovery for me. I highly recommend it if you have time during your stay in Provence.
When you come to us for an immersion stay in Provence, Virginie will be happy to share this excursion with you. She will also be very happy to help you discover the landscapes, the smells, the culture of this beautiful region while helping you improve your French.
À bientôt en Provence !
Virginie In Provence