Orgues de Flandre, Paris

It’s music to the ears of fans of brutalist architecture, les Orgues de Flandre now has its deserved protected status.

 

19th arrondissement brutalist architecture

 

Prelude, Fugue, Cantante and Sonate, the four soaring towers of the Orgues de Flandre in the 19th arrondissement are a familiar sight on the Parisian landscape. Inspired by the shape of organ pipes, designed by then Paris based German architect Martin Schultz van Treeck, the La Villette Social Housing project was conceived in the mid-60s and took a decade to complete.

 

 

Sea ice researcher (more of that later) and photographer, Evgenii Salganik explains,
‘Van Treeck was a pioneer of the architectural endoscope, the Relatoscop, which enabled visualization from the pedestrian’s perspective. The impact on his design was to literally turn everything upside down,  the opposite of the usual way of seeing building models,  from the top view’.

 

We asked him about his visit to Paris and much much further afield;

19th arrondissement brutalist architecture

What drew you to photograph the Orgues? Was it by chance or did you know about the development?

I wanted to explore in more depth the modern parts of Paris when I happened to be in the city. Generally speaking, I try not to travel unnecessarily due to its environmental effects. Before any trip, I usually prepare a detailed map with hundreds of points. I especially like social housing projects and try to visit them almost anywhere. When I was researching, the Orgues de Flandre had been mentioned several times including in the Brutalist Paris Map by Blue Crow, and I’d seen Laurent Kronental’s photos.

 

 

What impressed you most?

Their very powerful design reminded me of Wohnpark Alt-Erlaa in Vienna. I don’t like all the postmodernism, especially self-ironic projects, but this one was quite different. It’s the colour of milky coffee and has elegant tiles and terraces, in shades of brown and yellow.

1970s social housing 19th arrondissement paris 

Van Treeck’s design was made for living in, protecting people from the street and creating a lot of public spaces and possibilities to grow plants. The windows are a nice reference to Konstantin Melnikov’s Moscow home and the whole complex has a sense of being very well designed.

 

©Natalia Melikova The Constructivist Project

 

Artist's studio on the upper floor of the Melnikov House with stairs up to gallery leading to exit on to the roof terrace

Studio on the upper floor of the Melnikov House ©Natalia Melikova

 

Are they deserving of their protected status and if so why?

Definitely, this housing project captures the mood of a certain era and sadly I think too often too much is casually destroyed driven purely by economics. Architecture has a completely separate role as an extremely important reminder of history, traditions and events.
Fortunately, today we now have the opportunity to keep some reminders of our recent history allowing the natural evolution of our cities to continue. The Pruitt-Igoe Myth is a good example of how non-existing buildings can be used as political and architectural propaganda. And when the buildings are gone and the people living there are gone, how can we even tell the true story of a place and time?

 

19th arrondissement architecture

Porte de Flamands Image Evgenii Salganik

The MOSAiC Expedition

Whilst Covid raged across the globe, Evgenii was a member of the largest polar expedition in history, MOSAiC, his area of expertise is sea ice. Seven icebreakers ‘zigzagging a course through 2000km of ice’ in a year-long expedition into the Central Arctic climate system. Watching the overall ice melt was ‘a beautiful but tragic event’. He vividly described it, ‘like a frozen moon surface made of soft snow. The absence of an edge between melt ponds on the ice and open ocean.’

 

Arctic MOSAic Evgenii Salganik

Follow Evgenii on Instagram@evgeniisalganik
More about the MOSAiCexpedition
All Images are the Copyright of Evgeni Salganik

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