The Cité des 4000 is in La Courneuve, a town not far from Paris. The complex was designed to respond to the increased urban congestion of the capital city. When its construction was finished in 1956, the Cité offered 4000 new units, a large number which gave the name to the housing complex. Ten years after its construction, Jean-Luc Godard sets there his film Two or three things I know about her, linking the events of the leading character with the city and the neighbourhood life till a degree of a total identification. Stories of social problems intersect with the story of a city that is growing and expanding. The difficulty of not finding a meaning in life beyond the reassurance of an average life expressed by the Godard film had made the Cité the unforgettable setting representing the disillusion of the modern dream. In the 1980s, the complex was one of the most criticized banlieues of France. Soon, an urban regeneration process started, leading to its gradual demolition. In the same years of the construction of the Citè, in another continent, in the American town of St. Louis, the Pruitt-Igoe complex was built. It consisted of 2,870 housing units in 33 buildings of eleven floors, designed for the middle class. After the initial enthusiasm for the design project, many problems arose and the Pruitt Igoe became soon an unsuccessful architecture intervention and it was demolished in 1973. The images of its implosion shown on television had become an enduring symbol of the modern failure in the collective memory. That demolition sequence travelled around the world as a symbol of the failure of the CIAM policies and modern solutions to the housing needs. The director Godfrey Reggio filmed the abandoned Pruitt-Igoe – just before its demolition - and used the images together with the famous sequence of its demolition for his documentary Koyaanisqatsi, which deals on the topics of nature, humanity and modern civilization. What connects these stories and these movies? The Cité des 4000 and the Pruitt-Igoe have crossed destinies. Both the two housing complexes were designed with architectural and social aspirations and were greeted with great enthusiasm, and eventually became a mountain of dust. Their stories – of beginnings and demolitions - inspired two directors who, in different ways, used them as critical tools for the interpretation of Modernity. Their story and their meaning that convey from the movies, such as the interpretation of Modernity, communicate today a sense of memory of the places and of the disregarded aspirations of the modern social and urban model. This study explores the relationship between the built environment and cinema in the work of the two directors, showing the diversity and how technical and narrative solutions reflect the binding of cinematic stories with the real life of the two complexes.

Crossing Stories for an Interpretation of Modernity

SMERAGLIUOLO PERROTTA, LUISA
;
DE SILVA, FELICE
2014

Abstract

The Cité des 4000 is in La Courneuve, a town not far from Paris. The complex was designed to respond to the increased urban congestion of the capital city. When its construction was finished in 1956, the Cité offered 4000 new units, a large number which gave the name to the housing complex. Ten years after its construction, Jean-Luc Godard sets there his film Two or three things I know about her, linking the events of the leading character with the city and the neighbourhood life till a degree of a total identification. Stories of social problems intersect with the story of a city that is growing and expanding. The difficulty of not finding a meaning in life beyond the reassurance of an average life expressed by the Godard film had made the Cité the unforgettable setting representing the disillusion of the modern dream. In the 1980s, the complex was one of the most criticized banlieues of France. Soon, an urban regeneration process started, leading to its gradual demolition. In the same years of the construction of the Citè, in another continent, in the American town of St. Louis, the Pruitt-Igoe complex was built. It consisted of 2,870 housing units in 33 buildings of eleven floors, designed for the middle class. After the initial enthusiasm for the design project, many problems arose and the Pruitt Igoe became soon an unsuccessful architecture intervention and it was demolished in 1973. The images of its implosion shown on television had become an enduring symbol of the modern failure in the collective memory. That demolition sequence travelled around the world as a symbol of the failure of the CIAM policies and modern solutions to the housing needs. The director Godfrey Reggio filmed the abandoned Pruitt-Igoe – just before its demolition - and used the images together with the famous sequence of its demolition for his documentary Koyaanisqatsi, which deals on the topics of nature, humanity and modern civilization. What connects these stories and these movies? The Cité des 4000 and the Pruitt-Igoe have crossed destinies. Both the two housing complexes were designed with architectural and social aspirations and were greeted with great enthusiasm, and eventually became a mountain of dust. Their stories – of beginnings and demolitions - inspired two directors who, in different ways, used them as critical tools for the interpretation of Modernity. Their story and their meaning that convey from the movies, such as the interpretation of Modernity, communicate today a sense of memory of the places and of the disregarded aspirations of the modern social and urban model. This study explores the relationship between the built environment and cinema in the work of the two directors, showing the diversity and how technical and narrative solutions reflect the binding of cinematic stories with the real life of the two complexes.
978-605-5120-91-7
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11386/4652003
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