From the 1950s to the 1980s, Paris was booming. Foreign migration and urbanisation of the city caused a huge surge in population and a crisis for housing. France’s solution came in the form of vast housing projects and so during this period massive, modernist and really quite unique estates sprung up across the city — aiming for a new way of living.
Just a few decades later and these towering buildings look dated, discarded and forgotten. Often stigmatised by the media, they divide opinion in France and have been left mostly occupied by the ageing community of ‘urban veterans’ who first made it their home, as the younger generation are drawn to more contemporary city living.
Local photographer Laurent Kronental has become fascinated by the ‘ambitious and dated modernist features’ of these estates, known locally as ‘Grands Ensembles’. Since 2011 he has developed ‘Souvenir d’un Futur’, a series of stunning photographs documenting these neglected communities and capturing what he calls ‘the poetry of ageing environments’. He also explores the idea of the aspirational ‘utopia’ design contrasted with the neglected state they are in today, by consciously conveying the impression of towns that have been left almost empty.