The Becoming of Residential Identities: A Case of Residential Resilience - Bois-le-Prêtre, 2012
Paper i proceeding, 2012

The Becoming of Residential Identities: A Case of Residential Resilience - Bois le Prêtre, Paris, 2012 This paper is focused on the general topic of dynamic interrelations between architectural and social change and puts special attention to these aspects within the field of extreme urban residential situations characterised by radical spatial transgression and resident's profound processes of identification. It will try to re-situate the potentially critical role of urban architectural interventions in situations of profound cultural and social alterations. This research is dedicated to the combined architectural sociological analysis on ‘The Becoming of Residential Identities’ as empirical and conceptual explorations on contemporary residential situations focused on the reciprocal dynamic between social reality and architectural projections or alterations departing primarily from a Bourdieu elaborated perspective on cultural change related to symbolic capital; on visual and symbolic quality consumption. The paper will present a preliminary assessment and qualitative analysis of the 2012 finalised refurbishment project Bois-le-Prêtre in Paris as an important attempt at rethinking the social in architecture that has attracted much attention. These considerations are based on interviews with key project authors and possibly with inhabitants on site. This tower block, built 1959-60, consists of 17 levels, 96 housing units. To the existing 8 036 m2 a 3 348 m2 was added. The result is energy reduction due to the insulating facade extensions with added winter garden and balcony with renewed communication structure enabling full access for the handicapped. All this was added for no extra charge on the rent. As surplus added value the circulation patterns within the apartments have been enriched due to these external spatial extensions. Significantly, the project is developed with inhabitants predominantly staying in the building during construction works with only a short two-week displacement, which as an experience of the renewal process and later adaptation to the new conditions is a focus of residents’ biographical study. Confronted with images from the pre-existing flat usage before reconstruction it becomes evident how this drastic projected structural as well as symbolic change offers an opportunity for a spatial act of liberation.

extreme ways of residing

identity construction

architectural and social change

biographical qualitative research

residential resilience

projective practices


Sten Gromark

Chalmers, Arkitektur

Katrin Paadam

Nordic Sociological Association: Trust and Social Change, Reykjavik, Iceland, 14-19 August 2012






Hållbar utveckling

Innovation och entreprenörskap


Building Futures (2010-2018)

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