L'unité de Briey, built between 1959 and 1960, is the fourth of five of the Le Corbusier housing units. The unit began experiencing difficulties rather quickly. An economic crisis plunged the inhabitants into serious financial problems. The building gradually became empty and was on the point of being dynamited in 1984. In 1989, under the sponsorship of international architects and artists, the organisation 'First Street' contributed greatly to the rescue of the l'unité de Briey. A renovation was carried out in 2007 and will be completed in 2010.
The housing unit model or 'Radiant Housing project' is the culmination of Le Corbusier’s research on collective housing. Initially, he had imagined a 'vertical garden-housing project’ a synthesis between an individual dwelling and collective housing.
The goal of the housing unit was to create 'developments' of a new kind, harmonious and close to nature. Le Corbusier wanted to incorporate into these units a set of facilities needed for the development of social life: shops, schools, sports halls...
In the years following World War II, a large number of architects followed this housing construction model, seeing it as a quick and economical way to build housing for larger numbers. Unfortunately, all the functional and spatial ideas conceived by Le Corbusier disappeared, and all that remained were the large concrete blocks lost within a landscape that was becoming an industrial zone.