Unité d'Habitation of Berlin - Atlas Obscura

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Unité d'Habitation of Berlin

After local authorities changed the design, the building's architect, Le Corbusier, wanted nothing to do with it. 


During the 1950s, the new West Berlin government called many famous architects from all across the world to come and rebuild the destroyed city. One of these architects was Le Corbusier. The Swiss-French architect, writer, designer, urban planner, and painter was then at the height of his renown. Le Corbusier, who was born Charles-Edouard Jeanneret, had by then already designed several of these “Unité d’Habitation” apartment buildings. The first was in Marseille in 1952, followed by one in Nantes, France in 1955.

When he presented his plans for the Unité d’Habitation of Berlin to the West Berlin government, the building was deemed too large to be built in the city’s center. Eventually, construction began in 1956 in an outer Berlin suburb known as Flatowallee

Le Corbusier and local authorities had more disagreements, however. The original plan of the building called for many community amenities, including such as a kindergarten on the roof and shops on the seventh floor. But those amenities were never built, and instead, giving way to more housing. 

The apartments were also altered from Le Corbusier’s original plan. German building regulations required the carefully designed spaces to have taller ceilings–something that to Le Corbusier’s mind disrupted the balance of the space. 

Eventually, a children’s playground was added on the grounds and a laundrette, bank, supermarket, and post office were all crammed into the first floor. But Le Corbusier was already fed up with the project by then and refused to have any association with it.

Know Before You Go

If you want to visit the building is always open, but there are tours available as well, offered in both English and German. The buidling is a five minute walk from Berlin's Olympic Stadium, Olympiastadion Berlin.

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August 30, 2023

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