Words & Forms
Paul Chemetov (Chemetov & Huidobro Architects)


Paul Chemetov, 1992

©Monica Pidgeon

First, I am a French architect and it's easier for each architect to talk about his work in his own language and it's very difficult to explain a so native thing as to build, to build buildings. But I try, and please excuse my bad English, but I try.


Arago-Zola Housing, St. Ouen, Paris

©Monica Pidgeon

First I want to speak about the housing. The word is the most important problem for the architect. The modern architects invented the 'housing'. Before were palaces and slums and some good houses for the rich, and a century ago the problem to give a house to everyone was invented by modern architects, and we don't accomplish this project. And actually even in France, with very rich country, we don't give a house, a flat to each family. The situation is better than in 19th century. But this basic work of architects, not the quantity work but the ordinary structure of the town, the bone and the skin of the town, is not accomplished. We have beautiful old towns, we have new towns in France, we have so-called 'Grands Ensembles', but these three forms of housing don't go together. The town of Paris is marvellous, many tourists come and see and take slides, but Paris has just 2 million of inhabitants. The suburbs of Paris is 8 million and these suburbs are very attractive, but even when they are called 'new towns' they are 'no towns'. Its many architectural fantasies, many "capriccio". I could show you some low cost housing in the suburbs of Paris built in the end of the '70s and the beginning of the '80s. Actually the social housing is very declining in France. The financial condition, the urban condition, the comfort condition, is so rough that this work is the most interesting. It's very easy to make a palace or an embassy. You have marble, gold, precious wood.

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