Bernard Zehrfuss, Le Haut-du-Lièvre, Nancy, France, 1958-1962. © Joseph Abram, 1976.
Modernity and housing production in France after WWII


  • Joseph Abram




Modern Movement, Modern architecture, Modern housing, Post-war housing, Welfare architecture, Mass housing, French modern architecture, French grands ensembles, Preservation of modern architecture


After the collapse of 1940 and Occupation (1940-1944), France experienced a remarkable renewal after Liberation in 1944. Through reconstruction and intensive efforts to bring the country out of the housing crisis, the State set up a powerful production system, which based the expansion of the building sector on the concentration of investment in large companies. It was the era of the grands ensembles, of heavy prefabrication and giant construction sites. Initially well received by their inhabitants, these large housing complexes rapidly deteriorated and became ghettos. Despite the social difficulties that beset these neighborhoods, how can this important heritage of modernity be preserved today?

How to Cite

Abram, J. (2021). Modernity and housing production in France after WWII. Docomomo Journal, (65), 8–15.



Author Biography

Joseph Abram

(Cairo, 1951). Architect and historian, he has taught at the National School of Architecture in Nancy and at the Architecture Institute of Geneva University. He published extensively on 20th century Architecture, notably L’Architecture moderne en France, Volume II, 1940-1966, Paris, Picard, 1999. He has prepared the nomination for inscription of Le Havre on the World Heritage List.


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