Slow Is Fast

The Imbernon publishing house-bookstore will be the first to give there a commercial renaissance by moving in 2001 into the famous Winter Garden of the Housing Unit in Marseille. The bookshop specialising in architecture, urbanism, arts and design of course pays tribute to the forty or so works written by Le Corbusier who, on his identity card, had noted "man of letters" as his profession...

Livres d'architecture moderne

Livres le Corbusier


The infrastructure of facilities in addition to the 320 "cells" of the Marseilles Housing Unit is an original element which, because of its uniqueness, contributed strongly to the building's classification on Le Corbusier's UNESCO World Heritage List in 2016.

The "extensions of the dwelling" wanted by Le Corbusier to create his "Vertical City" are part of a long tradition of reflections and proposals on "autonomous" community-type housing: Jean-Baptiste André Godin's Famistère (Fourierist utopia), Moses Guinzburg's Narkomfin in Moscow (utopia of constructivist "social condensers").... and are also inspired by the architect's reinterpretation of monasteries (Galluzo's Charterhouse in Florence) and transatlantic liners, as devices ensuring a balance between the collective and the individual.

In these "extensions of the dwelling" or "common services", a distinction must be made between the collective facilities on the one hand, including the co-ownership, and the commercial infrastructure on the other hand, mainly located on the 3rd and 4th streets and also in the gymnasium (now the MaMo Art Centre) on the roof terrace of the building.

Le Corbusier had imagined that this commercial infrastructure itself could be of a collective and shared nature: managed with the many hotel-type services of the building by an "operating company" composed exclusively of the inhabitants. According to his plans, the 3rd and 4th streets were to be organized according to the model of American supermarkets and department stores: open, fluid and not very partitioned spaces, banks and stalls of goods... He referred to the "market floor".

History will decide otherwise because the Ministry of Reconstruction and Urban Planning, which had built the Housing Unit as a direct contracting authority with a special and experimental status (known as ISAI), will soon sell it off by selling apartments and spaces devoted to shops (the latter at auction, in small lots reconstructing a street logic).

For a decade, from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s, the commercial activity of the 3rd and 4th streets was intense and diversified, combining daily and more exceptional shops. The French logic of commercial town planning with its "large surfaces" will lead, following the example of the processes affecting town centres, to the progressive closure of shops and the transformation of premises into offices.

The dawn of the 2000s will see the installation of a new commercial activity, different and more oriented towards cultural dimensions (books, design, architecture...). Moreover an association was born which brings together these new retailers: ACPUH, Maison Mirbel, Hôtel Le Corbusier, Restaurant Le ventre de l'Architecte, Salon de thé l'Archigourmand, Kolektiv 318, Seriès Bijoux : ACPUH


And since May 2019, a documentary sound creation has been available to accompany clients and visitors on their architectural walk through the Housing unit...