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The architecture of Ivry, a series of encouters
The public works programme that the communist-run town of Ivry-sur-Seine launched in 1962 for its renovation lasted for more than twenty-five years. It was only at the end that the main thrust emerged clearly and that the project took shape; in the meantime people grew accustomed to living in provisional surroundings, with changes taking place in bits and pieces, and bursts of demolition depending on the state of the municipal cash-flow, and buildings going up like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle as yet illegible. The first operation was the appearance in 1968 of a tower block of ninety-six apartments opposite the venerable town hall, causing some perplexity in the municipality. The next stage was in 1970, when Jean Renaudie showed the future inhabitants the model of the Casanova building and its eighty apartments: a founding moment. There was some intrusion of political developments into daily life, and doubts as to the legitimacy of the project (was it really suitable for the working class ?), the desire to complete what had been started, or to be done with the whole thing, and the ever-pressing need for new housing. Here we merely describe one aspect of the story: what those who worked on the transformation of the district wanted to achieve, the builders, the architects, but also those who commissioned the work, and whose passionate involvement made the operation possible.
Jeanne-Hachette, the terraces. Above the shopping center, public terraces, gardens of the housing, climbing of the external accesses. © Paul Maurer
Studies for the renovation of the city centre of Ivry-sur-Seine began in 1962. The first building to go up was the Raspail tower block (1968, Renée Gailhoustet, arch.), which was followed by three other high-rise buildings. Jean Renaudie appeared on the scene in 1969; he designed the 80 apartments of Casanova (1972), and Jeanne-Hachette - shops, offices, 40 apartments and an arts centre - built in five stages from 1972 to 1976. In 1972 Spinoza (Renée Gailhoustet, arch.) was completed: 70 apartments, crèche, meeting place, children’s library and artists’ studios. The cultural centre project (Jean Renaudie, arch.) was never built. In 1978 there followed Jean-Baptiste ClОment (Jean Renaudie, arch.), 11 apartments, and in 1980 Bernard Palissy (François Gaussel, arch.), 50 apartments. Jean Renaudie died in 1982. The following projects were then carried out: 143 apartments at CitО du Parc (Jean and Serge Renaudie, arch.), including the Einstein school (Jean Renaudie, arch. and Nina Schuch, arch.), 136 apartments with 25 artists’ studios at LiОgat (Renée Gailhoustet, arch.), then Marat, with 140 apartments above a supermarket (1986, Renée Gailhoustet); and lastly place Voltaire and its 132 apartments (1987, Nina Schuch, arch.).
First publication in the book "Housing subtance of our cities", under the direction of Nasrine Seraji, Pavillon de l'Arsenal edition, 2007.
Renée Gailhoustet, architect
1929, Oran (Algeria) - 2023