"He died peacefully, very surrounded by family, in a Parisian hospital," his daughter Elisabeth Castro told AFP.
A figure of May 68, a colorful character, a laughing face, Roland Castro had made architecture a political fight against the "apartheid" of housing estates. And it is above all for his commitment that he was hailed on Friday by elected officials from all sides.
Starting with Emmanuel Macron, who had convinced him to join his cause in 2017 and 2022. "Legend of architecture and urban planning, visionary left-wing activist, Roland Castro has left us. an indelible imprint. To the citizens, an inspiration. Goodbye and thank you, Roland", tweeted the head of state.
The socialist mayor of the capital Anne Hidalgo promised that "Paris will pay tribute to him" and regretted "this warm friend, of all the fights and who had so many lives".
"The eye always sparkling, the verb high, intelligent, the devastating humor, Roland was a + character + sometimes excessive but above all endearing... hello comrade!", tweeted the Insoumis Alexis Corbière.
His latest project was to "re-enchant" the famous "Croisette de Cannes", recalled the city's LR mayor, David Lisnard, underlining "his committed, resolutely modern vision and his achievements (which have) marked the French history of the 'town planning'.
Cultural circles also paid tribute to him. “A character so familiar to an entire generation, we will miss this vigilant guardian of utopia so much,” commented Jérôme Clément, the former boss of Arte.
Michel Field, director of culture and performing arts at France Télévisions, regretted a "pioneer at the dawn of the 70s on gender and minorities, as well as on the suburbs and the periphery, who claimed the strength of utopia" .
Among his friends, the former examining magistrate Éric Halphen testified to "evenings to remake the world by having a few drinks, yelling at us and laughing".
We owe Roland Castro, among other things, the renovation of the Cité de la Caravelle in Villeneuve-la-Garenne, the Cité de la Bande Dessinée in Angoulême and the Labor Exchange in the city of Saint-Denis. But also the first trendy hotel Mama Shelter, in Paris.
Known for his rants, he had been active in the Maoist ranks in May 68 before founding a small group of far-left, libertarian and of all fights, including the rights of homosexuals.
He then refocused on his profession as an architect in the service of an ideal: to reweave the social bond and "convince that the suburbs are not catch-alls for the excluded from society". Opposing the rigorism of the heirs of Le Corbusier, he renovates and rebuilds cities. Without ever straying too far from politics.
In 1983, he co-founded "Banlieues 89" with his friend, the town planner Michel Cantal-Dupart. The initiative dates back to François Mitterrand, who entrusted an interministerial mission to Roland Castro. But the operation is confronted with the financial reluctance of the government and "Banlieues 89" disappears in 1991.
Sometimes Mitterrandien, sometimes supporter of the PCF, the architect will be criticized for having, in the 1990s, carried out a plan to fight against urban segregation, at the request of the RPR Charles Pasqua.
Short-lived aspiring presidential candidate in 2007, he had created his own party, the "Movement for Concrete Utopia", without collecting the necessary sponsorship.
He then participated for Nicolas Sarkozy in the drafting of a pharaonic project for Greater Paris, which remained a dead letter. In 2017, he again produced a report on this project, also without a future.
Born on October 16, 1940 in Limoges to a Jewish father from Thessaloniki and a Jewish Spanish mother, Roland Castro lived his first years hidden in a communist maquis in Limousin, keeping the idea that he had to fulfill his "a debt of existence to France".