Architectures of Social Segregation and Urban Inclusivity
When we think of Marseille and Architecture, we inevitably think of Le Corbusier’s Unité d’Habitation, the famous and prototypical case study project for modernist housing of the 20th century. This book focuses on the much less known Grands Ensembles that were built in Marseille in the aftermath of the Unité. Larger in scale but arguably less ambitious in their design and program, these housing precincts were meant to supply the demand for new affordable homes.
Often disconnected from the general urban fabric of the city, many of these developments today form ghettos of racial and social segregation. Many of them are structurally underserviced by the municipality in terms of employment opportunities, social infrastructure and well-maintained public spaces. In some neighborhoods public safety is so precarious that even police forces are wary from patrolling streets. In many ways contemporary French society has given up on these areas and written them off as irreparable historical failures.
By contrast, the authors of this book treat these projects in the vein of Habermas’ understanding of modernity as a perpetually unfinished project. Through careful analysis and critical study they have identified a series of unchartered architectural and urban potentials that merit to be materialized. That precisely is the subject of a series of design proposals that try to lead these urban orphans back into the mental and physical body the city, showing that they have what it takes to form integral and vital elements of contemporary Marseille.
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