Last week I accompanied Z's class on a school trip to the Cité Frugès in Pessac.
This housing development was designed by Le Corbusier and built in 1926. It was a visionary project for the era - individual modern housing for the workers from the local steelworks, and it is hard to believe that such a contemporary look was possible over eighty years ago. It seems, however, that the first inhabitants were far from overwhelemed by the look and practicality of their new homes. The houses were among the first to be made of concrete, a cold material in comparison to the local honey-coloured stone. They all had garages on the ground floor although almost none of the occupants actually had cars; the interiors are full of straight lines and cubic spaces which probably drove the housewives mad in a period during which fussy wallpaper, carpets and copious knick-knacks were the norm. Perhaps they were mollified by the indoor toilets and the central heating.
Unsurprisingly, the people who live in the houses have added their own touches here and there often kitch-ing away Le Corbusier's original pure lines.