When we think of Paris, we don’t generally imagine modern, functional structures in concrete, but a recent map published by Blue Crow Media aims to show how rich the city actually is in imaginative and unusual ‘brutalist’ buildings. More than that, Paris can also legitimately declare itself to be the spiritual home of concrete!
Paris and concrete goes back a long way. As we have already seen on the blog Invisible Paris, one of the pioneers of reinforced concrete, François Hennebique, housed his Paris offices in one the first buildings in the world to be constructed using only this material (which he also used to create his own mad home). His techniques would later be adopted in the city by architects such as Auguste Perret, Pierre Patout and most famously of all, Le Corbusier.
So why is Paris not a concrete city? In many ways it is, but almost exclusively in its edges and outskirts. The centre of Paris was spared the post-war rebuild that many other European cities had to undertake, but a huge increase in population – mostly in mushrooming suburbs and new satellite towns – meant that new builds were necessary across the whole region. Much of this construction was limited to poor-quality tower blocks that were also scuppered by disasterous planning and a desparate lack of infrastructure, but some gems have survived and merit celebration.