The new quarter La Confluence – the confluence – is located in the centre of Lyon, France, at the tip of the peninsula where the two rivers Rhône and Saône meet. Construction has been underway since 2003. Before that, the entire area was largely wasteland. The new concept is a great experiment planned to be finished in 2025: With an area of 150 hectares and designed for around 16000 inhabitants La Confluence is one of the first entirely new quarters in the centre of a town in Europe of this dimension that unifies social housings, offices, stores, green spaces, university buildings and leisure facilities. All of this based on a concept of energy-efficiency. An eco-city of its own, a young, cutting-edge, energy-efficient form of architecture.
The long-term photography project La Confluence is an artistic examination of this visionary architecture. The photographs were taken between 2014 and 2017, a period in which the main buildings and structures of the new district were already completed, but settlement and urban design still at the very beginning. At first there are just shiny facades, colours, structures, fascinating but inanimate scenery. An artificial, surreal world. Only very slowly people appear, almost imperceptibly between/in/beside the lifeless new buildings, leave traces and make the new city theirs. La Confluence is like a stage setting where the few people are acting like extras in a play. The photographs take the viewer on a journey seen through the photographers’ eyes and how she experienced the neighborhood.
Marie Hoffmann is a 30 years old photographer based in Germany, currently living and working in Cologne as for HGEsch Photography. Having studied in Hamburg and Tel Aviv, her photographs explore architecture and urban landscapes, mostly in their interaction with people. By means of different kinds of alienation and settings she creates abstract worlds where the borders between reality and perception become blurry.
She became aware of the urban planning of La Confluence in its very first state when she lived in Lyon between 2008 and 2010 and her enthusiasm for this project has never left her since. The full series consists of 36 photographs combined in a photobook and has been exhibited in various exhibitions as part of the European Architectural Photography Prize 2019 “Joyful Architecture”.
© text and pictures by Marie Hoffmann