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Paris' Sci-Fi Urban Utopia

The Espaces Abraxas and Arènes de Picasso is an apartment complex in a Paris suburb called Noisy-le-Grand, designed by Ricardo Bofill and Manuel Nunez-Yanowsky. Erected in the late 1970s, it was part of a huge effort to provide housing outside the crowded city. The modern and slightly dystopian look of the structure made it the perfect set at which to film the 1984 movie Brazil and the 2015 movie The Hunger Games: Mockingjay. Bofill designed the complex around a courtyard "theater," hoping to fill the apartments with a mixture of people from different classes and backgrounds and facilitate a feeling of community among them. When that didn't happen, he felt the "experiment" was a failure.

In 2006, Noisy-le-Grand sought to demolish parts of the development. After being met by widespread resentment from the population of Espaces Abraxas, the decision was made to keep them standing — for now. Kronental's photographs demonstrate very clearly that in spite of any assumed architectural or urban failings, these houses have been appropriated by their residents. In spite of the atmosphere of emptiness that Kronental has consciously captured, houses have become homes.

You have to wonder why anyone would tear down housing just because it didn't turn out exactly as you planned. The residents thought, "Oh, you wanted us to form a community? Why didn't you say so?" To keep their homes, they began to organize parties and clubs.

(YouTube link)  

-via Nag on the Lake


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