'Every time I see another great building I'm completely bowled over by it, ' says Urban Splash cofounder Tom Bloxham. 'But if I had to pick one it would be the Unite d'Habitation in Marseilles. It looks so modern. It has bright coloured doors but dimly-lit corridors which gives a quiet, moody effect. Le Corbusier has made a virtue of the lack of natural light. I love its massive scale and the beauty of the concrete and its complete dominance over the gardens.'
Bloxham was thrilled to stay there when he went to see Manchester United play Marseilles: 'I love both the quality of the building and the fact that it's much more than a building. It was an attempt to answer the big social issues of the time at a reasonable cost'. For Bloxham, Le Corbusier's 1952 architectural icon is the perfect example of highdensity mixed-use living. 'As well as the flats, it has shops, offices, a hotel, roof garden and even a nursery on the roof. Basically, all the things we talk about now, he was doing 50 years ago. It's reassuringly obvious and a reminder that it's not rocket science. It's been consistently used, and, okay, it's a bit worn and tattered, but it's not a museum piece and it's so obviously enjoyed by the people living there.'
Bloxham believes the Unite has been failed at times by bad tenants and poor management rather than by any intrinsic faults, and remains a great model for social housing and urban dwelling generally. 'I for one would love to live there.'