August 11, 2012
by fosco lucarelli
Architecture is the physical form which envelops human lives in all the complexity of their relations with their environment.
Jean Renaudie, 1968
While planning a long awaited tour of concrete council housing in the outskirts of Paris (anyone in?), here we feature a powerful ensemble built between 1969 and 1975 by Jean Renaudie and his wife Renée Gailhoustet at Ivry-sur-Seine.
These 8 buildings see the architects joyfully play with the plasticity of concrete, fade the limits between public and private spaces, dialogue between natural and artificial materials, and provide a variety of functions that is more usual in an urban scale environment than in a building ensemble.
All this without falling in the contemporary modernist clichés of 1950′s and 60′s, so typical in Paris’ banlieu.
I guess you cannot really explain Renaudie and Renée Gailhoustet’s legacy better than these lines by Léopold Lambert:
“In my opinion, Jean Renaudie is one of the very best French architects of the last fifty years. His two housing complexes in Ivry sur Seine near Paris (…) and in Givors near Lyon are two very successful examples of architecture becoming urban in an era (50′s-60′s) that created what is now famous as the French suburbs catastrophe. In fact, those two housing complexes are extremely interesting in the fact that they embody a real urban density, mix several social levels, organize urban life on a multitude of storeys, blur the limits between private and public areas and supply a little piece of garden to every apartment. This architecture is full of episodes, surprizing moments of beauty in an urban artefact/landscape full of hideaways.”
One flat from the inside.