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Architecture and Urban Planning - A Memoir \ David Best
II 1960 - 1970
The Caesarea Hotel

   A rather ordinary day in the office was suddenly transformed by a phone call from George Candilis the French architect who I had met in Marseilles in 1950, when I was on my way back home from my first visit to Israel. I had then passed through Marseilles and regretted that I had not stayed there longer than one day when I had sailed for Haifa. I had recently, seen the film "Marius" by Marcel Pagnol, and I wanted to get a proper taste of the life on the Marseilles waterfront. But even more than that, I wanted to go to the site of "Unite' d'habitation", the revolutionary housing project of Le Corbusier, which had thrilled all the architectural students in the Faculty of Architecture when we saw the drawings and photographs of the model. Now was my chance to see the real thing. Arriving in Marseillesand driving to the site of Unite', I was disappointed to see that only three or four stories had been completed, I thought it had already been entirely built. I was however very impressed by the great open ground floor, with the huge tapering 'piloties'[collums]of roughcast concrete. They were to influence my work for the next ten years. Climbing up the wooden ladders to the highest floor, I met two young men, one of them was American. I engaged him in conversation and was happy to hear that they were both architects from Le Corbusier's office who were supervising the construction. The other fellow was short and dark, with a broad mustache like George Brassens. The American was tall and slim with a crew cut. Their names were George Candilis and Shaderach Woods. They took me to the site office and showed me the blueprints of the facades and the details of the concrete shuttering. Afterwards we went for lunch together during which Candilis told me stories about his life during the war as a Communist Resistance Fighter in Greece, and of his student days later in Paris and having been finally accepted by Le Corbusier to work in his office. Shaderach Woods hardly said a word; he was a very quiet American. I told them about Israel and that I was on my way back to Manchester to finish my studies. George was about to leave for Paris the following day, so we agreed to meet when I would be passing through there in a few days time.  

   I phoned George as soon as I got to Paris. We met on the same day and he took me out for lunch at ‘my old’ Cafe de Deux-Magots But more important than that, George had arranged for me to visit the office of Le Corbusier on the Rue Serber on the following day. Excited to meet the great man, I arrived at the office in mid morning and entered a long dark corridor, which turned out to be the drawing office itself.. It had tables along one side of the wall. It was eleven o'clock and the table lights were on. A more dismal working environment would be difficult to imagine. George, with great ceremony introduced me to Le Corbusier. May be it was because of his thick spectacles, but Le Corbusier seemed to look right past me when he spoke. He soon called to Edward Jeanneret his cousin whose job apparently was to run the office and deal with bothersome visitors. Jeanneret spoke English quite well and was particularly friendly. I was thinking all the time of how Le Corbusier's sun drenched white buildings could emanate from this dark sewer like corridor.

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