Topologies: The Urban Utopia in France, 1960–1970 (review)
Author(s)Ferng, Jennifer H.
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Reviewed by Jennifer Ferng, Department of Architecture, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. E-mail: <firstname.lastname@example.org>. Bobigny, La Courneuve and Sarcelles, as well as other planning projects such as Maine-Montparnasse and La Défense, constitute some of the grand ensembles constructed in Paris during the 1950s and 1960s that scholars have examined in order to understand the effects of national identity and political regionalism on the French urban landscape. Regulated by the administrative policies of Charles de Gaulle’s return to power in 1958, these housing prototypes of the Fifth Republic transformed the Parisian periphery into a series of “dormitory cities” composed of habitations à loyer modéré (HLMS), plunging what was to be ordered reconstruction into contentious social and economic problems. Topologies is another notable volume that contributes to the widening body of literature on postwar architectural history that reinterprets the technological thinking of French utopian architects, along with those such as Archigram, Buckminster Fuller, the Metabolists, Cedric Price and Team 10, who collectively foresaw the dawning of a new age, tempered not by revolution but by the scientific techniques gained from economics and the social sciences. The book provides detailed biographical information on the work of David Georges Emmerich, Yona Friedman, Claude Parent and Michel Ragon while contextualizing their building schemes of 3D space frames and networked agglomerations against the ideas of well-known theorists Jean Baudrillard, Henri Lefebvre, Johannes Huzinga and Paul Virilio, whose thoughts on consumer society, space, play and the body, respectively, inspired these architects’ visions of the evolving city.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Architecture
Ferng, Jennifer. "Topologies: The Urban Utopia in France, 1960-1970 (review) by Larry Busbea." Leonardo 42.1 (2009): 85-86. © 2009 International Society for the Arts, Sciences and Technology (ISAST).
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