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Elle Decor Italia

The eyes of the towers: recounting architecture through windows

Les Yeux des Tours, the latest photo series by Laurent Kronental with a retro-futuristic touch

00-laurent-kronental-les-yeux-des-tours

Its name is “Les Yeux des Tours”, and it is the latest series of photos by Laurent Kronental. Its subject is Paris, framed by the wacky windows of the Tours Aillaud, a mammoth complex in the heart of the La Défense district. It is one of the most spectacular of the Grands Ensembles of social housing built during the post-war economic boom. The name by which they are known is that of their architect, Emile Aillaud, who built them between 1973 and 1981. 18 towers, for a total of 1600 flats, inside a series of reinforced concrete cylinders covered in gigantic colourful mosaics created by the artist Fabio Rieti. Constructions that, from afar, evoke clouds and plant stems merging with the sky.

 

Laurent Kronental’s work was begotten by the memory of these towers, which he saw for the first time in his youth, and by the lingering questions left in his mind on the lives of those who inhabited them. To find answers, and to placate a profound sense of nostalgia for his youth, the photographer decided to enter the flats inside the towers and immortalise the Paris seen by the residents.

The overarching theme is the irregular window. In fact, after spending four years photographing the exteriors of the Grands Ensembles of the Île-de-France for his project "Souvenir d'un Futur", he identified in the tear-shaped circular openings the secret ingredient that could confer a surreal and timeless aura to the Tours Aillaud.

 

 

 

 “In 2015, I started visiting several flats of the Tours Aillaud. I felt a magnificent unexpressed potential. I had always been under the spell of this district and dazed by the cylindrical shape of the living quarters and their retro-futuristic design. They appeared suspended in time. I had the impression of being transported to a sci-fi world that makes me think of "Playtime" by Jacques Tati, "Blade Runner" by Ridley Scott, or "Brazil" by Terry Gilliam. Another peculiarity eventually drew my entire attention: the windows. From the outside, they reminded me of the primitive dwellings whose openings could be dug in rock. These windows would become the mooring point of my new project”.

 

A timelessness captured by the series “Les Yeux des Tours” and accentuated by the use of soft lights and melancholic atmospheres enhancing the intrinsic sense of mystery of the towers. The similarities between the photos are meant to rouse curiosity more for the people who may live in the space behind the lens and the beauty of their lives than for what is being shown through the windows and the beauty of the view.

 “Fascinated as I am by both the architectural feat and its underlying utopian paradigm, I wish to invite the viewer to discover the intimacy of the flat and to find signs of human presence inside this extraordinary place”, says the photographer.

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by Pietro Terzini / 21 December 2017

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