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As the last episode of our personal favourites of Bofilltopias, please welcome the grandiose Les Arcades du Lac. Built in 1982 and the first project of many to be realised by Ricardo Bofill in France, Les Arcades du Lac was part of the ‘nouvelles villes’ scheme, where entire cities were commissioned outside of Paris to counter the problematic development of low income suburbs.

A subsidized housing unit with almost 400 apartments, it was not only a vast undertaking, but a milestone in Bofill’s career, attempting a slightly different model for social housing projects to come. Instead of growing into the sky, Les Arcades du Lac expand in width, covering a stunning 31,000 sqm and arranged like a classic French garden on the shores of an artificial lake, with the buildings as sort of oversized hedges framing spaces for public life, whereas a vast underground car park keeps the streets above as pedestrian zones.

Incorporating Bofill’s curious blend of influences into one postmodern fantasy, Les Arcades du Lac not only influenced Bofill’s future housing projects, but also often served as example for housing models gone haywire – whether justified or not is a different matter.

All images by Taller de Arquitectura