‘Unité d’habitation Berlin’ by Le Corbusier 1959 @ Flatowallee 16, Berlin-Westend, February 27th, 2012

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Le Corbusier’s visionary 1922 city plan, known as Ville Contemporaine envisioned massive residential blocks set in open green areas—towers in parks, bringing light and air to the residents of urban housing. Like most grand modernist visions, the Ville Contemporaine was never built in its entirety. Its influence on subsequent developments in city planning, however, is clear – notably on post-war reconstruction in Europe and public housing in the United States.

The unité d’habitation type was most notable for its creation of internal streets (essentially elaborate hallway) and accommodation of social and communal functions: kindergartens, medical facilities, recreational spaces, within the housing block. Le Corbusier designed several variations of the unité d’habitation, the most famous of which is in Marseille, Francein 1952. All were derived from this. 

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Nowadays the Berlin unité, built between 1956-1959, lacks most of the amenities (save a shop and a post office on the ground floor), but is considered unique for its more generously sized apartments. It accommodates 530 units on 17 floors. The internal streets here are oppressive, windowless corridors. Still, the building is in quite good condition. Its hilltop setting, iconic formal qualities, and polychromatic facades are very striking. Apparently there is a community of intelectuals, architects, fotographers, writers, designers etc… that take good care of the building ’cause they may find very attractive living in a Le Corbusier house, far for the original purpose of the building: accomodating a low class people and trying to do their lives easier.

In the slideshow, pics from the time the building was built (1959), located in the building hall. Text source http://www.galinsky.com/buildings/unitedhabitation/index.htm and my own


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