Urban sprawl is not a new phenomenon into the French landscape and particularly in the Paris region, but it is constantly pushing the residential areas far away from the city and the employment areas. Since the 1970s it has taken the form of housing estates which have become the symbol of the peri-urban area, between town and countryside, a territory with blurred and fluid boundaries.
Today, new suburban areas under Parisian influence are developing further and further away from the capital (sometimes more than 100 km away), sometimes even beyond the borders of the Île-de-France region, close to the major transport routes (motorways, national roads, Transilien rail network) that structure home-to-work trips.
The housing estate model is often criticized in a period when the environment and ecology matters are increasingly at the centre of social debate: strong automobile dependency for daily trips, artificialization of the soils, monopolisation of agricultural land, disruption of certain ecosystems, normalization of landscapes (concept de “ugly France”)… But above all, it is a means of escaping the frenzy and the noise of big cities, and takes its place in the dream of “low-cost” home ownership in a greener setting to watch one’s family grow up.
With these archetypes in mind, what does life really look like in these new territories of the 21st century?
Avoiding stigmatisation of these territories and those who live there, this project aims to be a photograph of reality, without concession. Of all the peri-urban areas crossed, there are recurrences. Here and there we see urban stigmas specific to these places: houses for sale, still under construction and already abandoned, unfinished infrastructures without really knowing when, and if, they will be finished one day. An atmosphere of perpetual construction without end is emanating from it. Escaping from the vertical promiscuity of the Parisian suburbs, the inhabitants of these areas face a promiscuity of a new order, horizontal this time: houses a few centimeters apart, gardens overlooking each other. You can see everything, you know everything that’s going on in your neighbor’s house.
But the main recurrence is indeed that of architectural redundancy, of a house that strangely resembles the neighbor’s, and those from the other suburban areas of the region.
Everywhere and yet nowhere, repetitive and juxtaposed.
Born in 1989, Geographer and self-taught photographer, Loïc focus his work on the study of the dynamics and changes of urban and peri-urban landscapes, through a monographic photo study documenting abandoned, stopped or under-utilized modern spaces throughout the world caused by the financial and real estate crisis.
(c) Photographs and text by Loïc Vendrame