Concrete Spring: Oscar Niemeyer’s Algerian legacy

While the Brazilian architecture of Oscar Niemeyer is much acclaimed, his work in Algeria is little known.

Mentouri University, Constantine, Algeria, 2013, Jason Oddy
Mentouri University, Constantine, Algeria, 2013, Jason Oddy

Photographer Jason Oddy has set out to shine a light on these secret buildings in his new series Concrete Spring.

Between 1969 and 1975 Niemeyer was invited by Algeria’s socialist president Houari Boumedienne, to design two campuses – the University of Mentouri, Constantine, and University of Science and Technology Houari Boumedienne.

University of Science and Technology Houari Boumediene, Bab-Ezzouar, Algiers, Algeria, Jason Oddy
University of Science and Technology Houari Boumediene, Bab-Ezzouar, Algiers, Algeria, Jason Oddy

He also had time to create La Coupole, a sports hall, and together the buildings came to represent Boumedienne’s vision of a modern nation following Algeria’s declaration of independence from France in 1961.

In June 2013 Oddy spent three weeks with a 5×4 field camera exploring the Modernist legacy of these buildings.

Smiths Row, which is hosting the show says, ‘Critically, the photographs ask how these places which had been designed to forge and empower Algeria’s postcolonial generation, might in some way be relevant today.’ 

Mentouri University, Constantine, Algeria, 2013, Jason Oddy
Mentouri University, Constantine, Algeria, 2013, Jason Oddy

After Boumedienne’s  tenure as president the country went on to encounter a bloody civil war and continues to experience political turmoil.

The gallery says, ‘Yet with the region in the throes of another great political upheaval, it seems both timely and poignant to examine this architecture of liberation again.’

By Jason Oddy

Concrete spring: Jason Oddy runs from 25 January – 15 March at Smiths Row, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, IP33

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  • Kieran Peel December 14, 2017 at 1:00 pm

    So these photographs were taken in 2013 – does any one know if the building is still erect or has it been demolished?

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