A July press release from Unesco confirmed that part of the work of architect Le Corbusier is now listed as world heritage.
"Chosen from the work of Le Corbusier, the 17 sites comprising this transnational serial property are spread over seven countries and are a testimonial to the invention of a new architectural language that made a break with the past." The 17 sites, in Argentina, Belgium, France, Germany, India (Chandigarh), Japan and Switzerland, thus join the prestigious World Architectural Heritage list. Of the six French sites included, the finest is Marseille's Unité d'Habitation, aka Cité Radieuse, known locally as La Maison du Fada ('the loony's house').
After ten years of rumours whispered in the corridors (called 'streets') of the Cité Radieuse, expectation had reached fever pitch early this summer and the people in the 326 apartments and the few shops still operating there were delighted at the news. Although at this stage no-one can tell what it will really mean for them. Katia Imbernon, who runs the bookshop on the 3rd floor, says: "For 60 years the town hall has seen the building as an obstacle to the district's redevelopment; now it has the opportunity to use it as a model. Now they have to come out of their denial and think of upgrading the 500m2 around the building." Jérôme Louis, manager of estate agency Espace Atypique, also located in the Cité Radieuse, is full of enthusiasm. For his agency, which specialises in architect-designed properties, it's confirmation of the wisdom of its choice. Ora-ïto, a newcomer to the building who has established an art space, MAMO, in the former gym, is "hyper-happy". "We have in Marseille a building that's recognised worldwide, and there are not that many of them. Barely more than 1000 in the world, which is not many per country!" Dominique and Albin Gérardin, owners of the Ventre de l'Architecte restaurant and the Hôtel le Corbusier, are naturally in the front line when it comes to showing people round the building. "We were waiting feverishly for this listing. We have always taken care of the small apartments that make up the hotel, and the restaurant dining room is pure homage to Modernism. We're very proud to offer such surroundings to diners and visitors and for us this listing is a consecration." In short, they all feel privileged.