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Illusions of an urban utopia
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During les Trente Glorieuses, between the 50s and the 70s, many french cities have been extended to meet the growing need for housing.
According to the style of rational urbanism inspired by Le Corbusier’s work and brutalist architecture, new buildings were futuristic and titanic.

It was a time of bizarre architectural theories, where architects wanted to give a philosophical and social sense to their creations. Nowadays, these fantasies are outdated and the buildings of that time seem grotesque to us.

In fact, these residential complexes were destined for demolition, but there is still something spectacular about it. People from all over the world are traveling to see them, and the citizens are proud of it.

“These “monuments”, as living memories of their time, hold a fragile force: that of a younger generation that did not see itself age.” —Laurent Kronental

Laurent Kronental “Souvenir d’un Futur” (2015), Espaces d’Abraxas

Les Grand Ensables, large popular neighborhoods now known as Banlieu, were created outside the centre of Paris. 

Laurent Kronental’s photo series, Souvenir d’un Futur (Memory of a Future), is an homage to the senior citizens of Parisian suburbs.

Espaces d’Abraxas by Ricardo Bofill in Noisy-le-Grand counts 610 apartments in the same residential complex. 

Arènes de Picasso by Manuel Núñez Yanowsky in Noisy-le-Grand has two large cylinders (called “camemberts”) whose axis is parallel to the equator.

Les Tours Aillaud by Emilie Aillaud in Nanterre is a housing project with 18 towers painted like a cloudy sky.

Orgues de Flandre by Martin van Trek in quartier de la Villette has the tallest apartment building in Paris.

Le Viaduc by Ricardo Bofill in Montigny-le-Bretonneux, built on an artificial lake.

Kronental (always fascinated by suburban architecture) wanted to create the atmosphere of a parallel world mixing past and future while consciously conveying the impression of towns without residents.

These photos show very clearly that despite the architectural flaws, these houses have been appropriated by their residents.
In contrast to the atmosphere of emptiness that Kronental has consciously captured, we actually see that these strange buildings have finally become houses.

“I have been looking all my life for the equilibrium that would allow me to have the maximum personal freedom and the maximum creative freedom. But at the end of the day, total freedom—like absolute pleasure—does not exist.” —Ricardo Bofill

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