To start off the year, I want to share some surprising social housing sites on the suburbs on Paris.

Built on the outskirts of Paris between 1960s and 1980s, these modern and postmodern housing projects –Les Grands Ensembles- were an attempt, a social experiment really, to make innovative social housing architecture that inspired the creativity of their residents.

In the early 2000s there were multiple discussions to demolish and redevelop the sites and buildings. Strong opposition from residents drove the rehabilitation projects to a halt.Decades after their construction, what happened to these buildings and their residents?

Laurent Kronental’s series, “Souvenir d’un Futur” (Memory of a Future), portrays these concrete landscapes as huge and nearly abandoned dystopias.  The only people depicted in Kornental’s depiction are a few senior citizens, many of whom, he says were the projects’ first inhabitants….

Below are some images and quick captions on some of the Ensemble projects…

paris general social ensembles.jpg

ESPACES D’ABRAXAS,  Noisy-le-Grand

Inaugurated in 1983 and designed by architect Ricardo Bofill.  This projects has 600 apartments dispersed amongst three main buildings: le Théâtre (west), l’Arc (center) et le Palacio (east).


espace d'abraxas.jpg


Source: Image by Laurent Kronental


Source: Image by Laurent Kronental

LES ARCADES DU LAC, Montigny-le-Bretonneux

Built in 1981 by architect Ricardo Bofill.
Once described as Versailles for the People, this project consists of 4-story arcades containing 389 apartments,  and a 5-floor ‘viaduc’ that accommodates  74 units.


Source: Image by Laurent Kronental


Source: Image by Gregorio Civera





Source: Image by Gregorio Civera

VISION 80, La Defense

Built in 1973 by architects Jean-Pierre Jouve, André Frischlander and Charles Mamfredos.
The project consists of 2 buildings, a long 7 stories espanade and a tall 15 stories tall tower; 236 apartments in total.


vision 80-Pisos_6-1_NucleoD_Vision80-1024x625Vision80_fachada_sur-1024x453

LES DAMIERS,   Courbevoie

Les Damiers was designed by Jacques Binoux and Michel Folliasson, with Abro and Henri Kandjian. The Ensemble has some 640 apartments distributed in four buildings of varying sizes (~18 stories tall), all with a stepped layout and built with prefabricated panels.

Les Damiers_ Kronental-France-housing-projects3.adapt.1190.1.jpg

Source: Image by Laurent Kronental


Source: Image by Designboom


Source: Image by Designboom

LE PAVE NEUF, Noisy-le-Grand

Inaugurated in 1985, the buildings designed by  Manuel Nuñez bring hommage to Gaudí and Picasso, two strong influences to the Spanish architect.
The design consists of two buildings, 17 stories tall containing 540 apartments.


Source: Image by Laurent Kronental

LES TOURS AILLAUD, Cité Pablo Picasso, Nanterre

Built in 1977, the Tours Aillaud are named after their main architect, Emile Aiullaud. The housing project represents 18 towers housing 1,607 apartments in total. The tallest of towers are 39 stories tall.


Source: Image by Laurent Kronental


Source: Image by Laurent Kronental

LES ORGUES DE FLANDRES, 19e arrondissement Paris

Built from 1974 to 1980 by the architect Martin van Trek, the buildings made of many buildings of 15 floors and four 30+ story tall dominating towers.


Source: Image by Laurent Kronental


An 8 building ensemble built between 1969 and 1975 by Jean Renaudie and his wife Renée Gailhoustet.


Source: Image by Laurent Kronental


Source: Socks studio


source: Socks-studio



If you know or have  recent documentation on the residents and these projects, please reach out, we would love to hear from you!

More on Social housing articles on FAVELissues

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s