Jason Oddy's photographs examine the relationship between mankind and the built environment. In his new series, Concrete Spring, he explores the extensive but little-known Algerian work of celebrated Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer (1907-2012), a key figure in the evolution of modern architecture.
Between 1969 and 1975 at the invitation of Algeria's socialist president Houari Boumediene, Niemeyer designed two university campuses and an Olympic sports hall. After the hard fought struggle for independence Boumediene was keen the country should transform itself into a modern, outward looking nation.
In June 2013 Oddy spent three weeks with his 5à4 field camera exploring this remarkable modernist legacy. His photographs spotlight these largely overlooked masterpieces of 20th century architecture. Critically, they also ask how these places which had been designed to forge and empower Algeria's post-colonial generation, might in some way be relevant today.
After forty years of political stagnation and a bloody, fifteen-year civil war, it's hard to match the Algeria of 2014 with the optimistic country Niemeyer encountered. Yet with the region still in the throes of the Arab Spring, now would seem the moment to examine this architecture of liberation again.
Jason Oddy will be in conversation with Dr Tania Sengupta, Lecturer in Architectural History and Theory at the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London.
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