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Laurent Kronental’s : Remember a Future

February 21, 2016 Leave a comment

Some rather evocative photos today taken by a young French photographer by the name of Laurent Kronental

They illustrate some of the large public housing schemes that went up in and around Paris between about 1960 and the mid 1980’s, showing them in the context of their current, mostly elderly residents.

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As an architecture student in the late 80s early 90’s, I remember some of these huge and bizarre “Grande Ensembles” being published. Even then, I got the distinct feeling that they were far more about form than function, style over substance, brought about by the architects desire to show off their paper thin, post modern credentials, than a drive to create human scale environments and sustainable communities (step forward Messers Bofill, Rossi and Botta…)

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In the accompanying text to these nameless, descriptionless images, Kronental suggests that as these anachronistic buildings age in parallel with their residents, their “wrinkled faces and cracked walls” convey a mix of resignation and expectation, of skepticism and confidence” and in so doing become living memories of their time, echoes of a younger generation that did not see itself age.

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I’m not sure about that, retrospective prose seems somehow misplaced in these gargantuan and ultimately misguided social experiments.

They certainly do make very arresting and interesting images though…

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