Le Corbusier Masterpiece Damaged In Blaze

inspiration for the Brutalist architectural style will need renovation

One of Le Corbusiers’s most famous buildings Cité Radieuse (radiant city) has been damaged by a fire which burned for over 20 hours. Nearly 1,600 residents had to be evacuated from the site which was severely damaged in the blaze, leaving five people hurt, including a 91 year old woman who was taken to hospital in a serious but stable condition. Two firefighters were also injured as they fought the blaze and eight of the building’s 334 apartments were destroyed along with four rooms in the hotel that occupies a middle floor, 35 other apartments were damaged by smoke or water a firefighter stated.

Also know as “The House of the Mad”, the building is classified as a historic monument,located in Marseille in France and was built 1947-1952.  The building was enormously influential and is often cited as the initial inspiration of the Brutalist architectural style and philosophy. The Marseille building, developed with Corbusier’s designers Shadrach Woods and George Candilis, comprises apartments arranged over twelve stories, all suspended on large piloti. The building also incorporates shops with architectural bookshop,] sporting, medical and educational facilities, a hotel which is open to the public, and a gastronomic restaurant, Le Ventre de l’Architecte (“The Architect’s Belly”). The flat roof is designed as a communal terrace with sculptural ventilation stacks, a running track, and a shallow paddling pool for children. The roof, where a number of theatrical performances have taken place, underwent renovation in 2010. It has unobstructed views of the Mediterranean and Marseille. Inside, corridors run through the centre of the long axis of every third floor of the building, with each apartment lying on two levels, and stretching from one side of the building to the other, with a balcony. Unlike many of the inferior system-built blocks it inspired, which lack the original’s generous proportions, communal facilities and parkland setting, the Unité is popular with its residents and is now mainly occupied by upper middle-class professionals.
The building is constructed in béton brut (rough-cast concrete), as the hoped-for steel frame proved too expensive in light of post-War shortages.The Unité in Marseille is pending designation as a World Heritage site by UNESCO. It is designated a historic monument by the French Ministry of Culture. It was damaged by fire on February 9 2012.

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