What happens when an architect is inspired by both the pyramids of Mesoamerica and the modernity of Oscar Niemeyer... and said architect has been tasked to create a master plan for a utopic seaside resort? You get La Grande-Motte, a commune in Southern France. Below, photographers Roberto Conte and Stefano Perego share a selection of images from their pilgrimage to this unique site.
Statement from photographers Roberto Conte and Stefano Perego. La Grande-Motte is a popular seaside resort located in Southern France, in the arrondissement of Montpellier. But it's not at all a usual seaside resort.
The whole area was designed and built between 1960 and 1975 by one single architect, Jean Balladur. He was a visionary man, that—with the exception of the works by a few artists involved by the author—basically designed every single detail of La Grande-Motte over 400 hectares: from the buildings (big and small) to the width of the roads, the vegetation, the height of the sidewalks and even the street furniture. Though all the architecture has a different design and shows a different concrete geometry, it's quite clear from the first sight that they were designed by the same hand.
Pyramids, triangles, circles, half circles and omegas, La Grande-Motte appeared to us like a kaleidoscope of shapes and patterns, a true visual and hypnotic experience full of big and small scale surprises—definitely an inspiring, uncommon and somehow challenging subject that we, as photographers, decided to represent by highlighting its geometric complexity and extravagance.
At the beginning, Balladur received harsh criticism, but with time (and the growth of the planned green areas) the whole project was rehabilitated and since 2010 La Grande-Motte has been properly considered as "Patrimoine du XXème sècle" (Heritage of 20th century) in France.