At Paris’ gates, the “City of Light”, there is a place without age, an architecture out of time and out of the norm. This outstanding space leans from its massive shoulders on universes connecting past, present and future, real and fiction. These are the Abraxas Spaces. From Brazil to Hunger Games, visit in the heart of a spectacular area.
I propose you an unusual walk. Get off the beaten track, look at present, past and future during this day trip.
The Abraxas Spaces have been open to the public since 2016 as a cultural place. The Abraxas site raises many questions and is incredibly relevant to the themes of heritage and citizenship.
Today’s science and innovations are yesterday’s fiction, and that’s why science fiction speaks to each of us.
Somehow, you may be familiar with Abraxas Spaces. Here have been shooted glorious and wide scenes of science fiction cinema, from Brazil to Hunger Games.
An architecture dedicated to cinema settings of Science Fiction
Let me take you virtually to Noisy-le-Grand, the city where Abraxas Spaces was built. Here we are touched by something grandiose and inhumane. These three buildings hold an almost vivid presence.
You could almost imagine a giant playing with glass, grass, grey and pink concrete to create this site. We hesitate between contemplation, astonishment and… maybe escape.
Several directors’ cut have chosen to shoot scenes from their science fiction film. This area seems to find its purpose in such atmospheres. To mention but a few, not least, Terry Gilliam for Brazil (1985) and Francis Lawrence for Hunger Games – the part 2 revolt (2014) are famous enough, aren’t they ?
Brazil : video the scene where you dive into the Abraxas Spaces
Francis Lawrence‘s film crew did shoot at the Palacio of Abraxas a key scene from Hunger Games‘ movie. The cinematographic adaptation of Suzanne Collins‘ trilogy novel starred Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen, Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark and Liam Hemsworth as Gale Hawthorne.
By the way,in my humble opinion, Suzanne Collins‘ bestseller trilogy is deeper as the movies.
video Abraxas Hunger Games
When Abraxas Spaces becomes “Le Capitole“, the inhabitants don’t believe their eyes… Yes, this place has residents, the stones are not only the silent witnesses of film shoots. Although they live there, they couldn’t access to the shooting place : it has been very supervised to limit paparazzi and fans.
How do you live amongst such an architectural environment ?
Photo credit: Espaces d’ Abraxas, Ricardo Bofill’s utopias on vernacular. com
Abraxas Spaces were built between 1978 and 1983, by the Spanish architect Ricardo Bofill, a specialist in oversized projects, as opposed to the flat bars of post-war dwellings. It reminds me of Ancient Greek temples. But firstly, this is a living place.
Guess how many apartments are in such structures ? One hundred ? Two hundred ? Much more than that…
Here are 600 apartments on 18 floors, stairwells everywhere, a strange feeling of timelessness. You can ask yourself if such buildings are on a human scale. Does your heart swings between the Greek Olympus, Alcatraz or Gotham City ?
There are benefits and cons. Pink, the color of concrete tinted in the mass (an innovation back then) warms up the huge walls. However if the size and configurations of the buildings make it a cool place in summer, during winter it converts Abraxas Spaces into a real wind-wind that freezes you up.
What place for human being in these mastodon which seem to almost breathe ? I have been told old stones are able to do this. Here, as in most of the oversized architectural constructions, is the breathing of a story to be told.
Abraxas Spaces as part of the story
Abraxas Spaces show us how the place we live in can tell much about culture or society history.
You are a culture repository. It is part of your own story. In this troubled times, like others before ours, we should bear in mind living together is not only living side by side. Living together is listen to each other, share, exchange, communicate, knowledge transfer, give and receive, support. Culture and goodwill allow and enhance understanding of each other, they help us living together.
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The newspaper Le Monde dedicated an interesting report to this issue. Read here the testimony of these residents.
I also invite you to read Do You Have To Destroy Abraxas Spaces? (in french)
Cinema and the city:
Brazil’s film locations (english)
You could also be interested by ethymology and history of the name “Abraxas”.
The Abraxas Spaces, Noisy le Grand (93 Seine Saint Denis), France.