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Viaduc de Montigny
Photograph: Alexandre Faraci

Check out these strangely beautiful brutalist buildings in Paris’s suburbs

We sent a photographer to capture some of the most beautiful brutalism in Paris’s banlieues

By Huw Oliver and Alexandre Faraci
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Ask a Parisian to name the city’s most beautiful building and they’d probably reach for something within the grand Périphérique ringroad that encircles the city centre. The Arc de Triomphe, say. Or the Grand Palais. Maybe even the towering open books that make up the Bibliothèque François-Mitterand.

And yet, we’d wager they hadn’t even considered the heaps of brilliantly out-there brutalist buildings that pepper the skyline in the wider banlieues. The suburbs of Grand Paris brim with madcap concrete structures worthy of any coffee-table architecture book, so we sent out our photographer to take some snaps – here are five of the coolest buildings he found.

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Best brutalist buildings in Paris

Les Étoiles in Ivry-sur-Seine
Photograph: Alexandre Faraci

Les Étoiles in Ivry-sur-Seine

Tired of seeing his neighbours in south-eastern Ivry-sur-Seine stacked on top of each other like Tetris blocks, architect Jean Renaudie looked to the stars for inspiration. His trademark geometric style is now known the world over, but nothing beats traipsing round these ’70s icons in the flesh. Renaudie himself lived here up until his death in 1981.

Les Espaces d'Abraxas
Photograph: Alexandre Faraci

Les Espaces d’Abraxas in Noisy-le-Grand

You may well recognise these towers to the east of Paris. In 2015 they filmed the last scene of the final ‘Hunger Games’ here. Francis Lawrence, the director, had said he wanted the saga’s grand finale to be set somewhere truly apocalyptic, and he can’t have been disappointed. The three enormous blocks were designed by Spaniard Ricardo Bofill, who’s since left his mark all over Paris’s suburbs.

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Viaduc de Montigny
Photograph: Alexandre Faraci

Viaduc de Montigny in Montigny-le-Bretonneux

Versailles for the people’ – that’s how one critic referred to this eye-catching housing complex when it was first built in 1979. Largely inspired by the Château de Chenonceau, the six-block ‘viaduc’, also designed by Bofill, juts out into a sprawling artificial lake to the west of Paris. Don’t miss ‘Voilure’, a sculpture by French artist Marcel van Thienen in the middle of the water.

Double Hélice
Photograph: Alexandre Faraci

Double Hélice in Noisy-le-Grand

Another alluring construction out in Noisy-le-Grand, this multi-storey parking lot is known as the ‘double helix’ for its photo-worthy twists and bends. Like a crash-landed concrete UFO, Ludovic Maillard’s ’70s masterpiece wouldn’t look out-of-place in a sci-fi blockbuster.

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Les Choux
Photograph: Alexandre Faraci

Les Choux in Créteil

Variously nicknamed the ‘flower-houses’, the ‘dahlias’ and the ‘corn ears’, Gérard Grandval’s Choux were the object of much derision when they first bloomed to the south-east of the capital in 1969. Thankfully, their balconies, bulbous like curled petals, have since earned some affection – to the degree they’re now a certified national heritage site.

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Galerie Perrotin
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