Souvenir d'un Futur: Jacques, 82, Le Viaduc et les Arcades du Lac, Montigny-le-Bretonneux, 2015 - All Photos by Laurent Kronental.

Jacques, 82, Le Viaduc et les Arcades du Lac, Montigny-le-Bretonneux, 2015 – All Photos by Laurent Kronental.

Souvenir d’un Futur photo essay by young photographer Laurent Kronental documents the life of senior citizens living in the Grands Ensembles, large housing projects, around Paris. Jacques (82), Josette (90), Alain (80) and other “urban veterans” are portrayed contemplating the surrounding concrete-scape.

Joseph, 88, Les Espaces d'Abraxas, Noisy-le-Grand, 2014.

Joseph, 88, Les Espaces d’Abraxas, Noisy-le-Grand, 2014.

The project is the result of four years of exploration and human interaction with the portrayed people and places. Souvenir d’un Futur is on show at the Bibliothèque national de France until the 7th of February 2016.

Josette, 90, Vision 80, Esplanade de La Défense, 2013.

Josette, 90, Vision 80, Esplanade de La Défense, 2013.

The brutalist districts were erected between the 1950s and the 1980s to address the housing crisis, urban migration and the inflow of foreign migrants but also to meet modern comfort needs.

Joseph, 88, Les Espaces d'Abraxas, Noisy-le-Grand, 2014.

Joseph, 88, Les Espaces d’Abraxas, Noisy-le-Grand, 2014.


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Les Orgues de Flandre, 19e arrondissement Paris, 2014.

Les Orgues de Flandre, 19e arrondissement Paris, 2014.

Such large estates became an architectural exercise for a modernist utopia. But today they are often stigmatized by the media and marginalized by public opinion. Fascinated by the ambition of the dated modernistic features, Laurent Kronental was moved by the living conditions of those who have aged there, and who, he feels, are the memory of the locus.

Jean, 89, Puteaux-La Défense, 2011.

Jean, 89, Puteaux-La Défense, 2011.

I need to examine their living conditions and shed light over a sometimes-neglected generation. Exposing these unsung and underestimated suburban areas is a means to reveal the poetry of aging environments slowly vanishing, and with them, the memory of modernist utopia” says Laurent Kronental.

Roland, 85, Les Arcades du Lac, Montigny-le-Bretonneux, 2015.

Roland, 85, Les Arcades du Lac, Montigny-le-Bretonneux, 2015.

The photographs feature a melancholic, yet brave disenchantment. “The majestic mass of the futuristic vessels seems to drift across an ocean of concrete. But the presence of old people, which might seem unexpected in such settings, paradoxically hints at a possible hope, as if past illusions were not all dead yet”.

Les Tours Aillaud, Cité Pablo Picasso, Nanterre, 2014.

Les Tours Aillaud, Cité Pablo Picasso, Nanterre, 2014.

Souvenir d’un Futur is the result of four years of visits and exchanges. In the series, Laurent Kronental aimed to create the atmosphere of a parallel world mixing past and future. Empty spaces, dramatic concrete-scapes and a “thunderous” silence seem to suspend the time.

Le Pavé Neuf, Noisy-le-Grand, 2015.

Le Pavé Neuf, Noisy-le-Grand, 2015.

I wanted to convey the impression of towns that would be emptied of their residents. In this magnificent and ghostly world, the structures of our cities would be titanic, gobble the human, the product of our fears and hopes for an organization of the city”.

Les Espaces d'Abraxas, Noisy-le-Grand, 2014.

Les Espaces d’Abraxas, Noisy-le-Grand, 2014.

Marked by the passing of time, these massive, gray buildings, like their elder residents, bear the signs of long lives. “And yet, in these wrinkled faces and cracked  walls, in the energy of the bodies and of the facades, emerges the pride and pulse that we thought had disappeared” adds Kronental.

Denise, 81, Cité Spinoza, Ivry-sur-Seine, 2015.

Denise, 81, Cité Spinoza, Ivry-sur-Seine, 2015.

The peaceful faces and the bareness of the spaces convey a mix of resignation and expectation, skepticism and confidence, unsatisfaction and plenitude; a world of contrasts, deep layers of life, spontaneity. “These monuments, as living memories of their time, hold a fragile force: that of a younger generation that did not see itself age”.

Alain, 80, Les Damiers, Courbevoie, 2013.

Alain, 80, Les Damiers, Courbevoie, 2013.

Self-taught photographer, Laurent Kronental discovers photography in China during a stay of several months in Beijing. He is captivated by the big metropolises there and by the variety of their architectures, their inhabitants, the way they tame the space and their personal stories.

Lucien, 84, Les Espaces d'Abraxas, Noisy-le-Grand, 2014.

Lucien, 84, Les Espaces d’Abraxas, Noisy-le-Grand, 2014.


PINTEREST BOARD: discover more brutalist architecture and dramatic concrete scenery.

Paulette, 83, Les Damiers, Courbevoie, 2015.

Paulette, 83, Les Damiers, Courbevoie, 2015.

All photos by Laurent Kronental.

Les Tours Aillaud, Cité Pablo Picasso, Nanterre, 2014.

Les Tours Aillaud, Cité Pablo Picasso, Nanterre, 2014.

Les Tours Aillaud, Cité Pablo Picasso, Nanterre, 2014.

Les Tours Aillaud, Cité Pablo Picasso, Nanterre, 2014.