By Rowan Moore
Two apartment blocks in France by the London architect Farshid Moussavi show that affordable housing can be inspirational and stand up to grander neighbours
On the outskirts of Montpellier in southern France, in response to a former mayor's request for a series of “follies”, rises La Folie Divine, a nine-storey tower made of layers of non-coincident curvaceous layers; a stack, perhaps, of freeform crepes. Just another icon, then. Actually, no: there's logic to the curves, which allow for generous balconies with wide views, but a minimum of overlooking from one to the other. The same ends, to be sure, might have been achieved more plainly, but also with less enjoyment.
“Everyone,” says its architect, Farshid Moussavi, “should have the choice of living in buildings that inspire them.” That's not an outlandish request. But in the current climate in Britain, where politicians, developers and architects are scrabbling to find ways to provide more housing, any housing, never mind the quality, in which supply is palpably and persistently failing to meet demand, it sounds fantastical. The London-based Moussavi, however, with two new apartment buildings in France for the same developer client, has set out to show what she means.