Monday, March 22, 2010

Little Boxes

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.


materfamilias said...

Gorgeous! I love that kind of field trips--offering the accompanying parents as much as the students themselves!

Mim said...

So much better a design than the terrible towers for "low-income people" in the States. Many of those have been dynamited.

Antipo Déesse said...

Lesley, the wood look is gorgeous, but your "and sometimes just haivering" title is too small and pale to be easily legible. You might want to beef it up! (or salmon it up :) as the case may be)

Lesley said...

@Antipo : ta - have beefed it up to white. I'm soo adventurous.

deborah said...

I once visited these flats and found them so depressing, really like living in a box. The fact that it was jolly old Corbusier didn't seem to make any difference, they were still as ugly as hell!

There must have been something good about them but what? Maybe the fact that they were relatively cheap.

Mim : there have been a few towers dynamited here too but there are plenty more still around which may not look up to much from the outside but which are more or less okay inside. Much nicer than these ones which are just cubes.

beaverboosh said...

love it... great digs for a steel worker or an investment banker