The Collège Protestant Français de Jeunes Filles in Beirut by Michel Écochard in 1961. The architect introduced many philosophies of Le Corbusier and modernism to the Middle East through this and other similar public projects. The design plays with light and shadows as well as the purity of white and simple lines. It allows for an optimistic space of learning and creativity unseen in French schools before this era.
The Grande Hotel was opened in 1955 with the claim to be the most luxurious hotel in Africa. It had an area of 21,000 square meters, more than 130 rooms, an olympic swimming pool, several restaurants and dance halls. Located just 5 hours off Rhodesia, it was the ideal place for the rich neighbours settlers, a spa with all kind of comforts and luxuries. The Grande Hotel ceased to function as such on February 28th, 1963 and eventually became a ghost building.
At the beginning of the 80’s the public pool, which had been open from the 70’s, was closed and the building gradually began to be squatted by low income families. Today, more than 2,000 people live in the ruins of this majestic hotel with no running water or electricity. A building that has been stripped of its elevators, glass and wrought iron railings. Any piece of the hotel could be sold to raise some money was sold by some of its own people.
Most of today’s residents of the Grande Hotel come from the northern provinces of Mozambique, from the bush. This rundown hotel is their first stop in Beira, which in the 50’s was a pintoresque bustling city with elegant cafés, international restaurants, luxurious hotels and boutiques with a cosmopolitan glamour.
This is a photo story about present and past of the colonial megalomania, the failed dreams of the independence process and the basic need of home for every human being.