A 19th Century Proletarian Citadel in Paris (Part 3)


Document from the ‘Plan Local d’Urbanisme‘ of Paris¬† illustrating the fragmentation of the complex in many property lots

This article constitutes the third and last part of a series about this Hausmannian social housing complex in Paris :
Read Part 1
Read Part2

As I wrote in the first part of this series, this 19th century Proletarian Citadel has lost its identity as a whole and became fragmented into many real estate lots disconnected from each other. The most visible materialization of such fragmentation can be seen in the courtyards which have been, not only separated from each other for most of them, but also split up to six times sometimes for the same courtyard (see plan above and photo below).  Just as much architecture, by its physicality, was providing this inter-connexion between the courtyards as public spaces offered to a proletarian community, it now materializes the limits created by the market to maximize the profits done on this housing complex. Those limits are embodied by various elements from low concrete walls to high fences which claim their pieces of property. Rather than sharing -and therefore negotiating- a large common public space, landlords and inhabitants -who are not so much proletarian anymore- prefer a smaller piece of land that they can call theirs.

To go even further, when looking at the incredible richness of Paris’ interior courtyards, one may regret that those are not open -at least during day time- to the public who would find in them zones liberated from the compulsory movement of the street as well as a labyrinthine network of paths similarly to the one developed in Lyon with the Traboules. The Situationist’ derive would probably find in this project, an interesting improvement…