The Cité Frugès is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is the most famous architecture ensemble in Bordeaux. The sugar manufacturer Henry Frugès from Bordeaux offered Le Corbusier the opportunity to implement his theories of industrial construction in the suburb of Pessac. The Cité Frugès is a modern housing development by Le Corbusier that was created in collaboration with his cousin Pierre Jeanneret. The workers' settlement was planned as a garden city with 127 houses. In 1924 the first construction phase with 51 houses was completed. The project was then discontinued for financial reasons. The Cité Frugès is also called Les Quartiers Modernes Frugès de Pessac. The city of Pessac bought the house 4 rue Le Corbusier and set up an exhibition with a model of the settlement.
Le Corbusier developed 7 different types of homes with which the 51 houses were built. The Gratte-Ciel type (skyscraper) was the tallest building in the settlement. The name high-rise appears somewhat presumptuous, the building has a ground floor and two upper floors + roof terrace. The whole settlement was built of reinforced concrete, which was new at the time. There was no contractor in Bordeaux to build with this new material. Finally a company from Paris was commissioned to built the houses.
The seven house types that Le Corbusier designed for the Cité Frugès were: Maison Zig-Zag, Maison Quinconce, Maison Gratte-Ciel, Maison Arcade, Maison isolée, Maison isolée "Vrinat" and Maison Jumelle. The Maison isolée type was destroyed by a bomb in World War II. So there are only 6 types left. The photo shows the most unusual type, the Maison Arcade. 7 houses were built of this type. Unusual is the arch made of thin reinforced concrete, that spans over the terrace as a roof.
The simplest house type in the Cité Frugès is the Maison Jumelle (twin). The two houses stand side by side in parallel and have a large front garden because they were placed in the block interior to loosen up the development. Each house has 4 rooms and 100 m² of living space. The house has a roof terrace on the side, which is enclosed by walls with openings. From here you can reach the accessible roof via a staircase. The main facade is mint green, the terrace walls are brown-red and the narrow side is painted white. Houses of the same type are painted differently, which means that the settlement as a whole is never boring or monotonous.
How do you get to the Cité Frugès?
The settlement is located in the suburb of Pessac, around 8 kilometers west of Bordeaux. The number 4 bus runs from the center of Bordeaux to Pessac Magonty. Get off at Le Monteil (Cité Le Corbusier). It's best to tell the bus driver that you want to go to the Le Corbusier. The stop is on Avenue Pasteur in Pessac. From here, the Rue Henri Frugès leads directly into the settlement after around 300 m. On the way back, take bus number 4 to Bordeaux-St-Louis. The journey takes around 30 minutes. For current information and bus schedule, check the link to Transports Bordeaux Métropole TBM.
Other buildings by Le Corbusier:
The Tribunal de Grand Instance courthouse is a complex of buildings near the Cathedral of Bordeaux. The Château du Hâ was built here in 1456. It was a fortress built by Charles VII after the end of the Hundred Years War against England. The fortress was later used as a prison. It rebuilt by Joseph-Adolphe Thiac in 1846 and expanded with a classicist courthouse.
The British architect Richard Rogers added another building in 1998. Under a curved metal roof there are 7 "vessels" in which the courtrooms are located. The tapered wooden structures penetrate the roof skin to direct light and air into the interior. The vessels are inspired by the wine production of Bordeaux and are supposed to remind of wine containers. The glass facade symbolizes the transparency of the judiciary. There is an office wing behind the wooden containers. Yellow metal walkways and stairs connect the offices to the courtrooms.
Other buildings by Richard Rogers:
The Pont Jacques Chaban-Delmas opened in 2013 and was named after the former mayor of Bordeaux. The 433 m long lifting bridge spans the Garonne in the north of Bordeaux. The middle section of the bridge can be raised so that cruise ships can travel to the center of the city. The 4 exposed concrete towers are 77 m high and contain pulling ropes, lifts and the glass stairwells that are illuminated at night. The bus lanes in the middle of the bridge can be converted into a tram line.
The Pont Jacques Chaban-Delmas was designed by the engineer Michel Virlogeux and Lavigne Cheron Architectes (formerly known as Sarl Architecture). Michel Virlogeux designed the famous Viaduc de Millau together with Sir Norman Foster.
The Cité du Vin is an information center for viticulture in the Bordeaux-Aquitaine region. The Parisian architecture firm XTU by Anouk Legendre and Nicolas Desmazières designed a building that resembles a decanter at the bottom and a wine glass at the top. The round structure was built of concrete and clad with aluminum plates and glass. The building is visible from afar by the 55 m high tower. It is also located directly on the Garonne and forms the prelude to many new buildings that are being built around the old port basin of Bacalan. The Cité du Vin was opened in 2016.
The Caserne des Pompiers de La Behauge is located in the Bastide district, on the right side of the Garonne, near the bridge Pont de Pierre. The Le Corbusier style fire station was built by the architects Claude Ferret, Yves Salier and Adrien Courtois between 1950-54. The facade made of aluminum elements was built according to the plans of Jean Prouvé.
The building consists of a large block of flats, which stands elevated above the fire brigade, which is located in front and behind the elevated flats. The apartment block has 5 floors above the fire station and is 31 m high. The facade at the Garonne is painted red and is dominated by the balconies in front, which are interrupted by white cubes with yellow shutters. There are no balconies on the back side, here are the staircases that protrude from the facade and are also red.
The fire station was closed in 2020 and a new use for the listed building is being sought.
Architecture Guide Bordeaux
Modern architecture in Bordeaux with Le Corbusier, Richard Rogers, Michel Virlogeux, XTU Anouk Legendre & Nicolas Desmazières, Claude Ferret, Yves Salier and Adrien Courtois. For historical buildings check out Sights of Bordeaux
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