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…
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
CITE DU PARC + CITE MAURICE-THOREZ Ivry-sur-Seine
An 8 building ensemble built between 1969 and 1975 by Jean Renaudie and his wife Renée Gailhoustet.
If you know or have recent documentation on the residents and these projects, please reach out, we would love to hear from you!