France Architecture Part II

The dialectic between invention and relationship with the city permeates all the great projects. Some are aimed at comparison with pre-existing monumental environments, such as the large glass pyramid used for the new arrangement of the Louvre (IM Pei, 1988), or the Musée d’Orsay (ACT group and G. Aulenti, 1986), intended for the collections from the 19th century and set up in a disused nineteenth-century station. Other realizations, on the other hand, aim at the insertion of new poles to revitalize entire urban fabrics: the Palais Omnisport (M. Andrault, P. Parat, J. Prouvé, 1984) and the Ministère de l’Economie et Finances (P. Chemetov and B. Huidobro, 1988), both in Bercy; the new Opéra at the Bastille (C. Ott, 1989); the Musée des Sciences, des Téchniques et Industries alla Villette (A. Fainsilber, 1986) with the 21st century urban park (B. Tschumi, 1987) and the Cité de la Musique (Ch. de Portzamparc, 1989). Finally, other projects they take up the challenge of the relationship with a highly formalized context, such as the Institut du Monde Arabe (J. Nouvel, P. Soria, G. Lézénès, 1987); symbolic the termination of grand ax in Paris with the colossal empty cube of the Arche de la Défense (JO von Spreckelsen, 1988), included in a completion program (with buildings by J.-P. Buffi, J. Nouvel and others) of the Cité de la Défense. These presidential initiatives correspond to those of the municipality, aimed above all at qualifying the Parisian East (APUR plan) in a policy of global rebalancing of the city, and at rebuilding and recovering blocks in central areas (Halles, Montparnasse, Marais).

According to ethnicityology, the end of the Eighties saw the search for new development strategies that go beyond the adaptation to the Haussmannian scheme and the model of ” city growth over the city ”. The Banlieues project 1989, launched in 1983 by R. Castro and M. Cantal-Dupart under the patronage of the president and entrusted to an inter-ministerial delegation, testifies to the effort to restore its own identity to the suburbs, through interventions from urban furniture to architectural realization (200 projects, so far achieved in a small part), with various objectives (reconciling road and city, reporting functional emergencies, eliminating barriers, rediscovering the geography of places, etc.). Other lines of research are indicated by the 1987 NAP 14, which calls for the questioning of housing, the living unit, as a return to a theme placed in the background by the most recent debate.

In the context described, the developments of the architectural language of the last decade are marked by a general resumption of traditional forms, such as the acceptance of alignments, the revaluation of the block, the recovery of compositional laws of the past (symmetry, volumetric unity, proportion), the use of solid walls with the use of traditional materials. Thus a desire to go beyond the modern movement is configured, but expressed in a wide range of elaborations that are difficult to refer to under the generic label of post-modern.

In fact, it ranges from the complex and stratified articulations of Ch. De Portzamparc (residences in rue des Hautes-Formes, 1979, and musical conservatory in rue J. Nicot, Paris) to the combinatorial process aimed at recovering an urban context by A. Grumbach (housing quai de Jemmapes, 1986, and rue des Cascades, Paris), to the free experimentalism of H.-E. Ciriani, teacher and designer (residences in Lognes, 1983-86; kitchen of the Saint-Antoine hospital, 1986, Paris), to the cultured references and suggestions of the past by P. Chemetov and B. Huidobro (residences in the Quartier des Moines, Isle d’Abeau, 1982; underground equipped space of the Halles, 1985), up to the monumentalism of the facade of the Catalan R. Bofill (houses in Marne-la-Vallée; place de Catalogne, Paris, 1985). A separate position is occupied by designers such as C. Vasconi,

A reaction to the progressive flattening of ” facade ” formalisms can be identified in the fragmented geometries of H. Gaudin (accommodations in Evry-Courcouronne, 1982-85; Collège Tandou, 1987, Paris; ” des Gardes ” complex in Arcueil, 1987), or in the fruitful continuation of rationalist models operated by P. Riboulet (R. Debré Hospital, 1988, Paris), or in recent deconstructivist researches that are linked to the themes of the Russian avant-gardes, as in the pavilions (folies) of B. Tschumi to the park of the Villette.

Other architects show an interest in technological research with the use of metal structures, glass surfaces, advanced plant systems, in the vein of international high-tech. Among all, after the death of J. Prouvé (1984), the work of J. Nouvel emerges, which bends contemporary technological acquisitions and industrial production to a fruitful creative vein (housing in Saint-Ouen; residential complex ” Némausus 1 ” in Nîmes, 1985-87; Lyon Opera, 1986 project; ” Tour sans fin ” at the Défense, 1989 project). This address is followed by many designers, including many young people (F. Deslaugiers, D. Lyon and P. Du Besset, J.-M. Ibos) and also marks the most recent among the great projects: the fusion with minimalist compositional tendencies leads to results of dry, rigorous monumentality (D. Perrault, Bibliothèque de France, 1989 project; France Soler, Center de Conferences Internationales, 1990 project). In the province, architectural production appears to be inspired by a plurality of contributions, together with the persistence of trends considered to be outdated (influence of FL Wright, A. Aalto, Ch. Moore, R. Venturi). To remember the names of J. Hondelatte, H. Jourda and G. Perraudin, and the Sycomore group. Some municipalities (Nîmes, Montpellier), following the example of Paris, have initiated projects for cultural centers and urban redevelopment interventions, often calling on internationally renowned architects.

France Architecture 2