Brutalist Paris: discover Paris beyond Haussmann
Paris is a city recognised and adored for its audacious wide boulevards and charming balconies. Yet beyond the celebrated Haussmann architecture, it’s also the city of modernity, where it’s possible to discover the brassier and equally charming architectural gems of Parisian Brutalist buildings.
Brutalist architecture is something not usually associated with Paris, but in fact béton brut (raw concrete) is very much at the heart of the city’s urban design and history.
Brutalist Paris: beyond Haussmann beginnings
The Paris Museum of Urbanism and Architecture, Pavillon de l’Arsenal, is currently holding an exposition entitled ‘Paris Haussmann’, which explores the architectural legacy we experience in the streets of Paris today.
The city planning of the 19th century left Paris utterly transformed in time for the outbreak of the First World War. The uniform and efficient manner of Haussmannisation gave Paris one of the highest rates of city ‘walkability‘ in the world.
Despite the beauty and grandeur of this the Haussmannian style, it is exciting to embrace the French concept of the flâneur and wander beyond the centre of the capital to discover other unconventional and unique takes on Parisian architecture.
Post-war architecture: Brutalism and Modernism
Paris is the city of modernity, but in a more adventurous sense than the 19th century definition. The 1950s to 1970s saw the flourishing of Modernist and Brutalist architecture as a fresh take on space and order.
The term Brutalism originates from the French word for ‘raw’, brut.
Buildings of this nature certainly possess raw, bold and angular forms, with their philosophy linked with a socialist utopian ideology, perhaps a response to the Haussmann’ investment-orientated principals.
Brutalist Paris buildings
Brutalist Paris can be found a little further from the city centre, with the most striking gems situated in the outer arrondissements and the banlieues, particularly Nanterre and Noisy-le-Grand.
This is part of the joy of exploration, to turn away from the tourist track and embrace the French spirit of psychogeography; a playful drifting around urban environments.
Some of my favourite wanderings have taken me to the radical shapes and structures of the residential 19th arrondissement, particularly Les Orgues de Flandre and Cité Curial-Cambrai. The urban landscape in these areas is so different from the classical Haussmann boulevards, yet their outlines lurk in the shadows.
Brutalist Paris is worth exploring as it serves as a break from the bustling city centre but even more for its rich and radical architectural, political history and also because from those vantage points you will gain wonderful views of the varied skyline.
Do you appreciate Brutalist Paris and its buildings? Do you have any tips of where to see interesting Parisian architecture? Let us know in the comments below!
Images courtesy of Molly Russell