UCL Urban Laboratory


New publication celebrates Brutalist architecture in Paris

9 March 2017

Les Etoiles at Ivry-sur-Seine by Nigel Green for Blue Crow Media

The brutalist architecture of the French capital is the subject of a new city guide published by Blue Crow Media in collaboration with Robin Wilson (Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL) and Nigel Green (Photolanguage).

The guide features over forty leading examples of Brutalist architecture from celebrated buildings such as Maison du Brésil, the Communist Party Headquarters and UNESCO Headquarters by world-renowned architects such as Le Corbusier, Oscar Niemeyer, and Marcel Breuer to the masterfully designed buildings at Ivry-sur-Seine Reconstruction du Centre Ville, 'Les Choux de Créteil', and 'Les Damiers' apartments by equally influential French architects Jean Renaudie, Renée Gailhoustet, Gérard Grandval and Michel Folliasson. Many lesser known buildings such as Marius Depont's concrete Church of Saint André and Pierre Vivien's UFO-like Telecommunications Building are also featured.

Written in English and French, the guide includes an introduction by Robin Wilson and photography by Nigel Green. Details for each building include the location, date, and the architects or practice responsible.

Robin Wilson, co-founder of Photolanguage and lecturer at the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL, said: 'This map not only guides the reader to discover many of Paris's boldest and exciting post-war buildings, it also provides a different way to experience Paris as a city, to explore areas not usually on the tourist itinerary and to encounter some genuinely radical urban environments'.

Post-war Brutalist architecture, as defined by critic Reyner Banham in 1955, aligns itself with the material honesty of the earlier work of Le Corbusier and August Perret, and incorporates within it both the French term le béton brut (raw concrete) and the expressionistic tendencies of art brut. Many of the Parisian Brutalists experimented with the structural and aesthetic properties of concrete, as the affordable construction material available in the period of post war reconstruction. However, the expressions of Brutalism are diverse, often using unusual combinations of building materials and producing a remarkable range of architectural forms and spaces.

This style provoked strong reactions with heated arguments over the decades about whether these buildings were concrete eyesores or design icons. In recent years the tide of public opinion seems to be moving in their favour.

The Brutalist Paris Map is designed to affirm the value of these buildings and to inspire further consideration of Brutalist architecture today.

Priced at £8 (€9, $10 USD) plus shipping, it is available to purchase through Blue Crow's website and at independent bookshops across Europe.