The origin of this issue was the power of the images that Lausanne photographer Leo Fabrizio, with years of research, made of Fernand Pouillon’s work in Algeria: the dignity and di versity of the architecture, the melancholy of its decay, the masterly photographs in the warm light of the Mediterranean deeply impressed us when, around a year ago, we encountered the book Fernand Pouillon et l’Algérie. Bâtir à hauteur d’hommes, which Leo Fabrizio published together with the photographer Daphné Bengoa. For the current issue he opened his archive to us. As a result, his large stock of images be comes accessible here for the first time.
Ostracised in his own country for a long time, French architect Fernand Pouillon (1912 – 86) is no longer omitted from any current standard work on the history of architecture. But, in contrast to his housing developments in Paris, Marseille or Aix-en-Provence, his works in Algeria remain hardly known at all. Between 1953 and 1958 he erected three urban districts in Algiers with a total of 6700 planned and 4200 realised apartments, most of them built of solid stone blocks. He developed characteristic compositions, which today still possess an enormous charisma. Twelve years ago, Aita Flury acknowledged these buildings in this periodical (wbw 7/8 – 2009), today they have been further researched. In 2020 our author Michaela Türtscher wrote a dissertation that deals with aspects of the composition, construction, and building processes and offers a critical review of the reception of Pouillon’s work.
After his conviction by French courts Fernand Pouillon returned in 1966 to Algeria, which had gained its independence a few years earlier. Thanks to several old contacts up until 1984 he built dozens of further big projects, in particular for the emerging tourism industry. In formal and construction terms Pouillon liberated himself from solid stone and followed new paths. We would like to thank Leo Fabrizio for his willingness to take us on this journey which, through his largeformat photos, can be explored in greater depth in an exhibition at the Architekturforum Zurich. — Daniel Kurz, Roland Züger