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Building Better Buildings


The building fans out, nonlinear, like chunks of concrete stars layered over one another. Every subsequent rooftop and patio plays host to greenery in an otherwise gray, urban environment. A Parisian street cuts the property in half, cars driving between the two structures and under an overpass connecting it all.

Starting in the late ‘60s, French architects Jean Renaudie and his wife Renée Gailhoustet designed eight interconnecting buildings in Ivry sur Seine, a suburb on the outskirts of Paris. Their design, with its fantastical use of concrete in unexpected forms, was--and is--a welcome departure from the typical and tired modernist structures that began to swallow up much of Paris’ airspace in the 1950s and ‘60s.

Described here with more prose and architectural fluency than we can currently muster, French architect Léopold Lambert praises the buildings for myriad reasons, including the following: “...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, surprising moments of beauty in an urban artefact/landscape full of hideaways.”

Maybe someone should send a note to the architects throwing up all these new condos all over New York City lately.

Images via Socks Studio