During the 1960s, building sites in Paris became spaces that expressed preoccupations about urban transformation, labour immigration and national identity. As new buildings and infrastructure changed the city, building sites revealed the substandard living and working conditions of migrant construction workers in France. Moreover, construction was the touchstone in debates about the dangers of urban life, and triggered action in communities whose districts faced demolition. Paris Under Construction explores the social, political and cultural responses to construction work and urban transformation in the Paris metropolitan region during the 1960s. This examination of a decade of intensive building work considers the ways in which the experience of construction was mediated, produced and reproduced through a range of complex and sometimes contradictory representations. The building sites that produced the new Paris are no longer visible, and were perhaps never intended to be seen, yet different groups closely observed and recorded construction, giving it meanings that went beyond specific building activities. The research draws extensively on French newspaper, television and radio archives, and delves into rarely examined trade union material. Paris Under Construction gives voice to the witnesses of—and participants in—urban transformation who are usually excluded from architectural and urban history.
"Through the eyes of Henri Lefebvre, Paskins takes a bold new look at Paris's second cataclysmic transformation in the 1960s. Weaving together disparate threads of France's postwar national identity, corporate capitalism, and the lives of immigrant construction workers, Paskins uses official documents and non-traditional resources to reconstruct the production of Paris's multilayered urban fabric and come up with a radical new definition of architectural history." –Meredith L. Clausen, University of Washington
1. Building Sites and Nation Building 2. Politics on the Building Site 3. Housing Builders: Constructing Inequality 4. The Building Site Next Door 5. Building Site Accidents: Construction in Crisis
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