A Peculiar Family Album
“From 1953 to 1957, the Deputy-Mayor of Algiers Jacques Chevallier appointed Fernand Pouillon to undertake building projects: social housing for the benefit of poor Algerians. With this ambitious programme, Jacques Chevallier was planning to reduce the blatant inequalities between Europeans and the indigenous population. This is how the estates of Diar Es-Saâda, Diar El-Mahçoul and Climat de France came to be with Pouillon's signature style. The architect from Marseille led these building campaigns with great gusto and talent : he had the ability to produce cheaper housing in record timing with, as the basic material, the famous “crying stone”.

At the same time as the launch of this “housing battle”, another battle breaks out, a far more fierce one : the Algerian War. The images in this film, realised by Chevallier's collaborator, don't show this context. They focus on the buildings rising from the ground, on the inspection site visits and the countless inauguration ceremonies. Nevertheless they really depict the making of what would transform the face of the capital city.

Attached as I am to Pouillon's work and to questions of public space in a city, I found these images to be precious material to explore the key sequence in the architectural, social and political history of Algiers. My narration is auto-fictive interspersed with historical references connecting the great History.”


Amina Menia


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