Project Description

Without doubt one of the most polarising of architectural styles, Brutalism is loved by many architects and designers and hated by most others.  At we love it!  Possibly the initial inspiration for most that followed in this style was Le Corbusier’s Unité d’habitation in Marseille and particularly the Cité radieuse block.  Iconic and imposing, this design classic is a perfect candidate for sculptural wall art.

Cité radieuse – the archetypal tower block – was built between 1947 and 1952.  Locally known as La Maison du Fada (“The Nutter’s House”) it is constructed in béton brut (rough-cast concrete) and houses 1 600 residents in 337 apartments of 23 different types separated by internal streets plus a hotel with 21 rooms.  To squeeze all this in, the behemoth is 137m long, 56m high and 24m wide.  Many compare it to an 18 storey ocean liner and many an architectural student has used as inspiration for a poor imitation.

Le Corbusier conceived it as a vertical city and displayed some of his five rules of architecture – particularly piloti and rooftop gardens/recreation.  The scale and proportion was derived through his system of Modulor.  This was the concept he conceived as a modern day version of Vitruvian man to bridge the gap between the imperial and metric systems – his starting point being a human with arm extended upwards.  It also referenced the sliding scale of music as desirable, rather than having incremental points; meaning that whatever the size, the proportion would always be perfect.

Loathed by many, Cité radieuse is now recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site and is a firm favourite with architects particularly.  It spawned copies and family worldwide, including Trellick Tower by Ernö Goldfinger and Robin Hood Gardens by the Smithsons – both now considered classics in London.