How Do We Know What Home Looks Like? The Unité d’Habitation of Le Corbusier at Firminy, France

Martha Rosler

1993 | 00:31:18 | France / United States | English | Color | Stereo | 4:3 | Video

Collection: Single Titles

Shot in Firminy-Vert, a Le Corbusier Unité, or housing project, in south-central France, this work traces the building’s history through an engagement with the lives of its residents and traces of its past. Called “Le Corbu” after its renowned architect, the complex was built after his death. The wing in which the tape was primarily shot had been closed for over ten years, thus enshrining the decor of the late 1960s when the building was first opened. The mayor of the town, who had facilitated its development, subsequently tried to have the complex destroyed, and in this work the tenant association president describes the struggle — only half-successful — to save it. The tape includes interviews with residents and with workers at the project’s low-power radio station. The opening sequence of views and snapshots is silent. Here is the space for an unspoken text about architecture and the warring interpretations of Le Corbusier’s idea of what might constitute a human, humane, humanizing space.

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