Claude Parent passed away over the weekend in Paris, a day after his 93rd birthday on Friday. He was one of the most influential modernist architects to come out of France and founder of the oblique function. Parent's aesthetic style is widely acknowledged for paving the way for architects such as Zaha Hadid, Daniel Libeskind, and Frank Gehry. His style often bears the hallmark of angled walls and roofing, articulating space in such way that had not been seen before on such a scale. The oblique style was developed with the help of urban planner and cultural philosopher Paul Virilio who drew inspiration from the disorientating properties of World War II bunkers that slumped down among sand dunes, hence obscuring the threshold between floor and walls. Together, Parent and Virilio formed Architecture Principe. Notable works include Sainte Bernadette du Balay at Nevers, France. A close friend of Parent, French architect and academic Odile Decq wrote in 2005: "If someone tells you that Claude Parent is over 80, do not believe it." "His indignation is one that galvanizes and helps you to think about your dreams become possible. This drug is without any danger: it is a necessary prescription for the today’s students in architecture, fully invested in project reality but all frustrated with their dreams about tomorrow’s living," she went on to say. "Though often on the edge, his own heart never broke down, repaired by surgeries on the side road, some oblique roads, so strong and intense was the energy Claude put in it." Today, Decq added to her comments of eleven years ago. "Even if it has been repaired multiple times, last Saturday, while becoming 93, his heart has dropped off and I have lost a friend who was shaking my head to go further. See you soon, Claude!" Parent was rewarded for his contributions to architecture in 1979 when he claimed the Grand National Prize for Architecture. In 2010, he was awarded the title of Commander of the Legion of Honour, one of the highest decorations France can offer.
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As part of a master plan comprising 23 sites across Paris, Sou Fujimoto, David Chipperfield, and 20 others have been named as winners involved in responding the the Mayor's call to "reinvent Paris." https://twitter.com/Paris/status/694829444243046400?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw "A city like Paris must be able to reinvent itself at every moment in order to meet the many challenges facing it. Particularly in terms of housing and everything relating to density, desegregation, energy and resilience," said Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris. "It is important in today's world to find new collective ways of working that will give shape to the future metropolis." The scheme was launched last year at the start of November, and has prompted many architects and developers to submit plans for the 23 sites across the city. Ranging from empty brownfield sites, polluted wastelands, classified mansions, office renovations, and train stations, Hidalgo's plan has been hailed by many with French publication Talerma going so far as to call it a "stroke of genius." Despite the number of changes, one of the 23 sites, an 1880 neo-Gothic former Korean Embassy-turned-mansion has been left neglected. The judges deemed that no proposal (barely any were submitted) was worthy of construction and so the ageing structure will be left untouched on the Avenue De Villiers. The same cannot be said for the Messana railway station, however. Given the unusual location and former typology, many were inspired to make it their own and judges were spoilt for choice. The winning submission came from Lina Ghotmeh DGT Architects who transformed the space into a healthy eating haven. Including a rooftop vegetable garden, a laboratory for agroecosystem research, gardening classrooms, residences for young chefs, bar, and, of course, restaurant. Other notable winning submissions came from British architect David Chipperfield and Sou Fujimoto from Japan. Working alongside Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson, Chipperfield will "reinvent" the Immeuble Morland, a 164-foot tall once state-owned building that lies on the river Seine. The mixed-use program will include a swimming pool, ground floor food market, gym, a hotel, offices, a creche, youth hostel, and set aside 53,800 square feet for social housing. The top floor will also offer panoramic bar and restaurant. Fujimoto, meanwhile, collaborated with revered French product designer Philippe Starck and Manal Rachdi of OXO Architectes. Fujimoto's project will stretch across the Boulevard Périphérique, by the Palais des Congrès de Paris and offer what appears to be a densely packed green roof. Like Chipperfield, Fujimoto dedicated a large portion of his project to social housing. In fact, this will assume 30 percent of the development that will also offer office space, a community center, kindergarten, and play area. The projects are set to cost over $1.46 billion and return $634 million in revenue to the city through the sale or long-term leasing of land. In addition to this, 2,000 over the course of three years are expected to be generated via construction alone.
With its first commission for a retail project, Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) will design the new flagship store for Galeries Lafayette on the prestigious Champs-Élysées in Paris. “It has to be, somehow, the biggest concept store that has been built on the Champs-Élysées,” said Nicolas Houzé, chief executive officer of Galeries Lafayette. To give an impression of the size of the project, BIG's renovation will see Galeries Lafayette occupy some 75,350 square feet, a tenth of the size of the chain's outlet on the Haussmann Boulevard. Speaking to Business of Fashion, Ingels was eager to note that the Art Deco heritage of the building would be maintained, paying respect to the established architectural aesthetic that is a recurring feature within the vicinity. “We are inheriting a big, beautiful building that has been there for a century. So we are mostly moving around within it and playing with elements that have already been established. And I think it is going to feel like a joyful and playful environment for people to shop,” said Ingels. BIG is set to install an "observatory" that will allow visitors to look down the avenue. Also included will be a "circus" which makes use of a translucent flooring system and an “infinite vitrine” that will display Melvin Sokolsky’s black-and-white photographs of models seemingly floating inside bubbles. With regard to the renovation of a concealed skylight, Ingels pointed out that this would not be a simple copy of similar light at the Haussmann Boulevard. “We’re taking that element and letting it bleed out across the store, so that the lighting behaves in a similar way as when the clouds move over Paris.”
Modernism made you mad? One remedy might be smashing your Lego model of Villa Savoye into tiny pieces. If you don't have such a model handy, there's now a virtual solution to defacing Corbu with an online game called Le Petit Architecte. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6nG2tOD7Ts0 Creating an “absolute architectural masterpiece” is no mean feat, but that is what players of Le Petit Architecte are tasked with achieving. In the game, you play as an intern attempting to "improve" Le Corbusier's design for the Villa Savoye, situated just East of Paris in real life. The game comes at just over 50 years after Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris' (Le Corbusier's) death which has meant that copyright in the majority of European countries (but not the U.S.) covering his work is no longer valid. Theo Triantafyllidis, a student at UCLA was one of the first to take full advantage of this. Naturally, he came to the conclusion that the first thing anyone would want to do to the Villa Savoye, if given the opportunity, would be to chuck a seemingly endless amount of objects at the house. Each object, of course, has its own sound effect which bears no relevance to its purpose size or shape or life form. An equally odd (and also perfectly befitting) soundtrack accompanies the game. The game was showcased at the #Decorbuziers exhibition in Athens, Greece late last year (on the 50th anniversary of Corbusier's death). Allison Meier at Hyperallergic succinctly stated: "Le Petit Architecte is a fairly simple game — create chaos in the face of modernist serenity. Yet it’s an enjoyably absurd diversion, and provides some digital retribution perhaps for those of us who still cringe over Le Corbusier’s mural defacement of Eileen Gray’s E.1027."
French authorities have announced that it plans to lay over 600 miles of solar roads within five years. Research from a five year study in collaboration with highway company COLAS indicates that the roads could provide power to up to 5 million people, or 8 percent of France's population. However, some claim that the French government is merely subsidising French companies and not following the best road for alternative energy solutions. Project "Wattway," as it is being called, was launched last October with the French Agency of Environment and Energy Management stating that just over 13 feet (4m) of solar road (215 square feet to be precise) could meet the energy demands (except heating) of one home. On that basis, 5,000 residents could draw on their energy supplies from as little as 0.62 miles of solar road. https://twitter.com/RoyalSegolene/status/693861761179611136?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw Five years of research deduced that French roads are only occupied by vehicles "10 percent of the time" and that the solution could pave the way for solving future energy demands. Looking at the specs, the surface uses polycrystalline silicon cells, which are "encapsulated in a substrate," forming high yield solar panels. Only 0.28 inches (7mm) thin, the panels have an extremely high strength-to-weight ratio which allows them to deal with the weight of pretty much all motor-vehicles. For those thinking that driving on solar panels has the potential to be hazardous, fear not. Snowplow tests have been passed and the panels com equipped with all-weather skid-resistant coating. “These extremely fragile photovoltaic cells are coated in a multilayer substrate composed of resins and polymers, translucent enough to allow sunlight to pass through, and resistant enough to withstand truck traffic,” said COLAS. It's not just homes the roads could potentially power. Outlining the possibilities for "intelligent roads," COLAS said how they could be used for real time traffic management, self-driving cars, charging moving electric vehicles and eliminating black ice. What's more, COLAS said that the panels can be "directly applied to existing roads, highways, bike paths, parking areas, etc., without any civil engineering work." On top of that, the panels can last up to 20 years in areas that see infrequent traffic, meanwhile COLAS estimates the lifespan of the panels in regular traffic conditions to be 10 years. For example, if the quickest route from Caen in the North of France down to Marseille were to be covered, residents in both cities could be powered for 52 years if the panelled road lasted 10 years (and was removed afterwards). How Legitimate are COLAS's claims? France gets 1,600–2,000 sunlight hours per year. Taking the minimum of that, and subtracting 10 percent (road occupancy from vehicles) that leaves 1,440 sunlight hours per year. Interestingly, COLAS's claim of powering one home every 13 feet arose from the presumption of roads receiving only 1,000 sunlight hours per year, indicating that they are being extremely stringent with their study. Unsurprisingly, COLAS's panels have a lower percentage yield than current photovoltaic market solutions, offering 15 percent solar yields compared to 19 percent, but one can presume that this is a byproduct of making the panels roadworthy and their altered angle of incidence. This equates (by COLAS' calculations) to the panels costing $6.73 per Watt. However, according to Olivier Danielo of DDMagazine, this is "six times the cost "of large-scale photovoltaic cells." Danielo has reason to be skeptical. COLAS specialize in highway construction and by creating an "energy efficient" solution actually implement roads that have a shorter lifespan than regular roads, thereby giving themselves more work. Surely it would be far more efficient to equip houses who can utilize the optimum angle of incidence in conjunction with the most efficient photovoltaic (PV) technology? Jenny Chase, head of solar analysis at Bloomberg New Energy Finance ("Solar Insight Team") backs Danielo's claims up. https://twitter.com/solar_chase/status/696658947252609024 Danielo and Chase aren't the only ones concerned, either. French engineer Nicolas Ott said that the energy payback from rooftop PV's is 7.5:1 compared to Wattway's 1.6:1. COLAS also claim to have "invented" the solar road when this is not the case. SolaRoad, a bike path in Krommanie in the Netherlands produced better than expected yields. However, when compared to three rooftop PV systems in the same area of the prototype road, data showed that rooftop PV's was double that of the SolaRoad per square meter over the same period. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-ZSXB3KDF0 Nonetheless, installation of the French solar road panels is set to start soon with funding coming from raising taxes on fossil fuels. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ZNJhcNq9q4
In 1989, OMA was commissioned by Euralille to masterplan 8,611,100 square feet of urban activities Approximately 27 years later, the last free parcel of Phase One is filled. The project, Euravenir Tower, was designed by Paris-based architecture firm, LAN Architecture, at the foot of Avenue Le Corbusier. The site "occupies a strategic position at the intersection of major axes and close to well-known landmarks of Lille’s infrastructure, such as the Lille-Europe train station and the ring road, among others," LAN said in a statement. "This location inspired us to view the project as a way to articulate and make a heterogeneous ensemble of architectural and urban elements work together." The building is wrapped in large, clear, glass windows, giving a 360 degree view of Euralille. A copper facade varies in perforation patterns and is either smooth or corrugated, depending on the neighboring condition. "The perforations give depth to the facade, while the corrugation provides a sense of movement," LAN claimed in a statement. The ground level of the tower provides public space. Because LAN was prohibited to build to the edge of the parcel, the firm designed a portico that "provides a sense of porosity as well as protection from inclement weather," says LAN, "It is a lively outdoor space where people who live and work in the building can mingle with passers-by and shop customers." For more information, visit LAN's project page here.
On October 7, the New York Landmarks Preservation Foundation hosted its annual “Lunch at a Landmark” at the top of the Hearst Tower. Guests, New York’s elite architectural, design, and preservation cognoscenti, were offered a rare insight into the building—one from Norman Foster himself. To best explain his old-meets-new approach to the Hearst Tower, Foster revisited five of his past projects: the Reichstag in Berlin; the Millennium Bridge over the Thames; the Millau Viaduct in Millau, France; La Voile in St. Jean Cap Ferrat, France; and the Château Margaux in Bordeaux. The original Art Deco Hearst building by Joseph Urban was always intended to have a tower rising from its base. However, due to complications like the Great Depression, it was nearly 80 years before that tower came to fruition. To build the 46-story-tall skyscraper, Foster scooped out the building’s interior to introduce light and create a kind of “town-square.” This move was initially contested on the grounds of “facadism” but Foster persisted. “When someone says I can’t do something, that is when I get really excited about it,” he said. Now, the dynamic lobby with its dramatic entrance that takes pedestrians over an indoor waterfall to enter is one of the building’s most iconic design moments. Of course, Foster could make an educated guess that this would be the case. He took a similar approach to Berlin’s Reichstag in 1999. In that instance, the hollowed-out core was a historically sensitive move that visually helped to give the building back to the people. Even as he preserved the Russian graffiti and other emblems of the building’s past, the clear dome in the tower physically placed the people above the government as a bright symbol of democracy. Although bridges are markedly different from buildings, Foster also connected past and present with the Millennium Bridge and the Millau Viaduct, quite literally. Taking cues from St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Tate Modern in London, the Millennium Bridge’s thin, steel profile frames picturesque views of the city for the approximately 4 million people per year who walk across it. While France’s Millau Viaduct didn’t have to contend with any historic buildings, it presented a similar challenge in that its location, the Massif Central Region, is a National Heritage Site. Using tall piers to support the slender bridge, Foster and Michel Virlogeux (the lead engineer at Eiffage, the same company responsible for the Eiffel Tower), created a structure that only lightly touches the land and enhances the landscape for everyone driving across it. These three projects illustrate Foster’s concept of a design “marriage,” a relationship that he likens to a family, where there is a new generation that may have a distinct style, but it has very strong ties to the older generation. In two other projects he discussed, La Voile in St. Jean Cap Ferrat, France, and the Château Margaux in Bordeaux, Foster opted for a different approach. For La Voile, Foster ran up against a well-intentioned law in the South of France that protected the coastline. Unfortunately, this meant that a nondescript house on his client’s property was also protected. But, by hollowing out an old stone tower from the center, Foster created a new “skin,” a design that totally swallows the original home—perfectly preserving it without compromising the new design. In fact, the fit was so perfect, that the local police raided the house once to make sure the original one was accessible underneath (it was). Along similar lines, but less dramatically, Foster integrated a new structure for making white wine at the Château Margaux winery with an 1815 building by Louis Combes. Pulling inspiration from trees and farm structures, the resulting building appears to grow both organically from the site and from its 19th Century counterpart. These five projects offer a survey of Foster’s innovative and varying approaches to melding old and new architecture in ways both familiar and unique to each site. It will be exciting to see how these approaches unfold as he turns to more radical projects such as the drone port in Rwanda and beyond.
If at first you don’t succeed: Jean Nouvel’s leaning towers of Paris gets planning approval after initial rejection
After an initial rejection by officials from the Paris Council, French architect Jean Nouvel has been awarded planning permission for his firm's so-called Duo Tower project on the Eastern banks of the Seine. Located in the Quartier De La Gare district of Paris, the project follows on the heels of another pyramidal tower by Herzog & De Meuron planned for the city. Since Paris has dropped its construction height limit, the project is one of the first to be jumping on the high-rise bandwagon. Taking advantage of the new lack of restrictions, the taller tower will rise to 590 feet while the lower block will reach just over 400. Nouvel's towers have been a source of controversy in the French capital. A fierce opponent of Parisian high-rises, Mayor Patrice vowed to fight the scheme earlier in the year. Speaking to Le Parisien he said "I will attack this permit with a gracious solution." Unimpressed with the towers winning planning approval, he went to on to say, "the permit/license of construction was validated on the basis of a grossly false photomontage," arguing that the renders did not accurately portray the visual effect the building would have on the skyline. Touted to cost over $570 million, the mixed-use towers will provide over one million square feet—about 24 acres—of office space, and include a hotel, auditorium, restaurant, and retail area. Of this space, some will be accessible to the public with the restaurant offering views over Paris and along the river. Construction is set to begin next year with the project aiming to be complete by 2020.
The Japan Art Association has announced that French architect Dominique Perrault, most famous for the National Library of France in Paris, has won the 2015 Praemium Imperiale International Arts Award in the architecture category. Perrault is one of five laureates, joining Tadanori Yokoo for painting, Wolfgang Laib for sculpture, Mitsuko Uchida for music, and Sylvie Guillem for theater / film. At a ceremony in Tokyo on October 21, 2015, Imperial Highness Prince Hitachi, honorary patron of the Japan Art Association, will present each Praemium Imperiale winner with a specially designed gold medal and a testimonial letter. The award also brings with it roughly $122,000 (15 million yen). The 62-year-0ld architect “treads his own bold path,” describes The Guardian, with designs that “can be wildly imaginative … [or] … abstractly minimal.” Success is nothing new for Perrault who has already won the the Silver medal for town planning in 1992 and the Mies van der Rohe Prize in 1996. In 2010 he was also awarded the gold medal by the French Academy of Architecture for all his work. Previous winners include architects Steven Holl in 2014 and David Chipperfield in 2013.
There's something about those CGI scenes of Middle Earth in Peter Jackson's adaptation of The Lord of the Rings that really tickles the imagination. Apparently, they're inspirational enough to prod one group in Southern England to put together a campaign to build a real life version of J.R.R. Tolkien's hilled city of Minas Tirith. And they're asking the world to fund it. A determined group of architects and structural engineers launched an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign seek to recreate the fictional city in all its white-walled, mountainside glory—and it won't be cheap. The so-called Realise Minas Tirith project has already raised over $94,000 of the approximately $2.8 billion budget with 47 days left to reach its goal. The project won't receive any funds unless its entire budget is met by that deadline, so it's a pretty safe bet to chip in a few bucks. "We all share a love of Tolkien's work, and a desire to challenge the common perception of community and architecture," project leader Jonathan Wilson said on his Indiegogo page. "We believe that, in realising Minas Tirith, we can create not only the most remarkable tourist attraction on the planet, but also a wonderfully unique place to live and work.We're fully aware of the scale of our ambition, but we hope you realise just how special this project could be." If the funds are raised in time, the group plans to break ground in 2016 and open their gleaming new city in 2023. There is precedent for such a monumental hill-city building campaign. Take, for instance, Le Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy, France, pictured below.
Benoit Cornette and Odile Decq’s 25-year-old Banque Populaire de l’Ouest (BPO) building is threatened by demolition after the owner was unable to sell it and subsequently received permission to tear it down. The building’s double glazed, suspended facade and its panoramic elevators were considered major technical innovations when it was built. The architectural heritage of the building is under threat for purely financial matters, but if the building can receive a pending classification, it would allow the architects one year to draw a plan to refurbish, repurpose, or otherwise save the building. A petition was launched on July 7th, and can be found here. According to the Save the BPO website,
It is time to act and react. The stake is to save a major building of the 20th century…BPO’s building brought international recognition to its authors with a Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale in 1996. Their innovative approach of mixing architecture, engineering and industry in search of a new spatiality was highly acclaimed at the time. Technically exceptional with its architectural experimentations, the BPO’s building embodies the “high tech” movement at the same level as the HSBC Tower in Hong Kong or the Lloyd’s Headquarters in London.Sign up for updates to learn more at the group's Facebook page or on Twitter.
First in 40 Years: After initial rejection, Herzog & de Meuron’s triangular skyscraper is set to break ground in Paris
Paris' city council ruling against the controversial Tour Triangle skyscraper back in 2014 was just overturned by the same governmental body. Mayor Anne Hidalgo approved of the jagged, triangular, Herzog & de Meuron–designed tower and has said she looks forward to the opportunities it will bring to the French capital. During construction, an estimated 5,000 workers will be employed and another 5,000 employees are predicted to occupy what will be Paris' third-tallest structure. Tour Triangle will be Paris’ first skyscraper since Montparnasse in 1973. The Triangle, located in the Porte de Versailles neighborhood, promises amenities that will cater to both professionals and tourists alike within its 43 stories. The tower includes 70,000 square feet of office space for creative and tech start-up companies and another 24,000 square feet of co-working space. For vacationers and out-of-towners, the tower plans to build a 120-room hotel with a lower-level daycare and upper-level dining facilities. Take a look at a gallery of renderings below. All photos (Courtesy Tour Triangle)