Image: Gavin Morrison “The Sea and the Trees” Uniformagazine, Winter–Spring 2016, No. 5, 2016.
L'unité d'habitation in Marseille is an elevated, perforated, concrete monolith. Colloquially it was – and still is – known as 'la maison du fada', a suggestion of irrationality: the house of the crazies. Its architectural devotees are more likely to deploy epithets that evoke the monastic or apian, or whatever words can conveniently summon both the mystic and the reasoned. This was Le Corbusier in his primitivist mode, where his buildings eschewed the earlier machine age precision for a muscular tactility. The concrete was rough, béton brut, it carried the impressions of the wooden shuttering of its construction and was often unpainted. L'unité's interior could be a cave looking out upon the Mediterranean.