In the mid-1920s, at Pessac near Bordeaux, Le Corbusier built his first large-scale project, the Quartiers Modernes Fruges, which consisted of some 70 housing units. Acting simultaneously as architect and town planner, and taking account of the prevailing social and economic factors, he wished to provide people with low-cost, predetermined, homogeneous cubist structures—"machines to live in" or empty containers that their presence alone would activate and fulfill.
This book describes what happened as people moved in and proceeded to live their lives over, around, and against the architecture and the architect's designs for their behavior. It reviews the history of the project, describes reactions to it in the contemporary press ("Fascist," "Bolshevist"), and examines Le Corbusier's own conception of the project as revealed in various writings. A group discussion with several architects and a sociologist, and informal interview with Pessac residents discussing the parts of the house and the house as entity, their views of the project, and spatial and social relations in the district complete this historic account.