On the edges of Paris, you can find a postwar city within a city, where monolithic apartment complexes were constructed between the 1950s to the 1980s.
These gigantic, and now decaying, modern and postmodern buildings were built to address the need for housing in a post-WWII Paris, that saw increasing numbers of foreign immigrants making the city their new home. Souvenir d’un Futur was shot over a period of 4 years by self-taught photographer Laurent Kronental, who was drawn to the Grand Ensembles of Paris through his interest in the architecture of big metropolises and the people that reside within these spaces.
Part apocalyptic wasteland, part Wes Anderson style movie set, the buildings are grand and ghostly, with concrete rising up to form desolate urban spaces, which look as if they were never inhabited by the human race. But they are, as many of these complexes house an ageing generation, who, through Kronental’s depiction, look as if they will simply fade slowly away, like the buildings themselves.
Kronental questions the neglect of the buildings, as well as the people, in this photo series. They too seem to have been forgotten, despite the fact that the memories of Paris’ past live with them.
Eerily beautiful, but considered by many as areas of exclusion and unemployment, the plan is to demolish the buildings and start again. But, while the elderly still reside there, it’s almost as if the cracked facades of the building wait for the wrinkled faces they house to slowly fade away, before they do too.