Am I a neighbor, a friend, a philosopher, an architecture critic? For about two years, I followed architect Sarah Bitter (Metek) on site visits. I saw the old Faubourg building hollowed out like a carcass, the hangar at the back of the yard holding onto the short-lived traces of the destroyed staircase on thewalls, and the wooden structure suspended like a large umbrella. I saw the first concrete walls rising and the metallic passageways. I gradually understood the unveiled figures of a plan drawing, that one so meditated, so varied in its distributions, that my successive visits exposed me to new and surprising spatial adventures.
As evidenced by the film directed by Sophie Comtet-Kouyaté, the architecture of these buildings, pavilions and workshops of this block of the rue de Crimée, invents a family and festive theater. The apartments visited one by one during the time of their construction, and until the final phases of the construction, offered many opportunities to interpret the architecture, to read the score, to understand the rhythms, to imagine the virtues for the lives of families. Each tenant will be home as in his house, all will feel close, around the entrance gate, the main courtyard and the neighboring courtyard further widening the sharing of space, open staircases and private passageways. The artists, who are the beneficiaries of the workshops set up at the back end of the block, will be the active participants of this common space.
How to precede the steps of the director in the filming of this architectural document, flourishing in fiction, in cinematographic tale?
Sophie Comtet-Kouyaté asked me to walk in front of her, to walk and talk, with no other constraints than those imposed by the stability of the frame, the flicker of light and shadows; with no other rule than that inspired by the sequence of the fi lm’s plans within the architectural plans.
What to say then if not give shape in a few short sentences to the impressions received at each visit? A slight phrasing that could not be reduced to the speech of the teacher or that of the journalist, who also refrained from speaking instead of the future inhabitants. Just the spontaneous response of a visitor, informed of the case and empathetic, to the question posed by the art of the two directors: the architect and the filmmaker.

  Jean Attali is a philosopher. He has collaborated on numerous architectural projects, notably with Rem Koolhaas (OMA / AMO, Rotterdam), Nasrine Seraji (ASAA, Paris) and Philippe Samyn (Samyn & Partners, Brussels). Publications (selection): The plan and the detail. A philosophy of architecture and the city, Nîmes, Ed. J. Chambon, coll. «Rayon Art», 2001 / Europa: European Council and Council of the European Union (with Philippe Samyn, architect), Brussels, Lanoo, 2014 / Sea returns, exhibition catalog, Paris, Ed Dilecta, 2014.  


Jean Attali, philosopher