× Europe H2020

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 760858

Heritage values: Referential Buildings

Heritage Architecture and Urbanism

Referential Buildings

Some buildings are the origin of countless later references, of new buildings for which they serve as a model. Consequently, these buildings acquire a referential or prototypical character because they are custodians of technical, typological, and aesthetic innovations that involve the creation of a whole new architectural system. Especially when it comes to collective housing buildings, their recurring repetition has shaped the urban landscapes of our cities. On the other hand, the progressive degradation or outlining of the original model, often for economic reasons, has led to a marked decline in the quality of these neighborhoods and the quality of life of those who live in them. 
It is the case of housing blocks, for instance. Le Corbusier's idea of the Unités d'habitation, consisting of vertical open blocks of apartments with services intimately connected to the landscape on which they stood, has been distorted. The empty spaces have been filled, and the blocks have been disengaged from the landscape. As a result, they are now often associated with high densely built neighborhoods in difficult social environments and degraded urban areas, such as the banlieues in France or the polígonos de viviendas in Spain.

Related monuments


cc 2.0 modernist design

HfG - Archiv Ulm [HfG Archives Ulm]


CC BY 2.0 André P. Meyer-Vitali

Unité d'Habitation Marseille [Marseille Housing Unit] and Hôtel Le Corbusier


© Olga de Kock

Halles du Boulingrin [Boulingrin Halls]


© Giulia Bernini

Palazzetto dell Sport [Sports Hall]