AUJOURD’HUI N° 54 – FRANCE 1 – ENGLISH SUMMARY 2 INTRODUCTION, by André Bloc. Having devoted issues to architects and artists in Japan, Italy, Great Britain and Spain, we must now turn to survey the trend of creation in France in the world of painting, sculpture and architecture. Although criticism for painting is powerful and organised, art-loyers can stil) confront their own opinions with those of trained critics, whereas in architecture there are few critics so we have sought out the best among young designers, publishing their projects full of originality. The title France I shows that our choice is not arbitrary or limited and later issues will feature ciher French architects, creative character being the main criterion used. We will gladly publish the opinions and reactions of young or experienced architects, since our aim is to stimulate discussion but here are a few of the author, Patrice Goulet’s comments: « Architecture which should have organised a new nature has only one silhouette—that of prisons. Architects are responsible for this capitulation and one day, justice will be demanded of them. We must sweep aside false problems and solutions to reveal the essentiel core from which true archi-tecture may develop. For this we must question ail hitherto accepted notions. » Our readers must tell us if this severity is completely justified. ARCHITECTURE. 4 THE QUEST – ENDEAVOURS BY FIVE TEAMS, by Patrice Goulet. The Pive schèmes described are among the best in French architecture, each featuring a tendency. 1) Architecture? A craft.—Maillard and Ducamp are attached to concrete problems. Their key words are simplicity, truth, efficiency, each element in its place, nothing forgottenor ill-treated, and exhi-bited in the structure. However « solid » architecture is not enough—it must be adapted to present day necessities it must be « reasonable ». The sports centres at Meaux and Briançon indicate evolution, using identical units whose grouping became an essentiel part of the general design. Industrialisation will accelerate this tendency altering study process since the unit will be designed first. It is striking to see the lack of proportion between the gravity of the problems and the re-duced means of architectural offices. Designers are forced to study a plan which can be used again after a few modifications, for other schemes. There is therefore a risk of monotony, and instead of preserving its place faced with industry, perhaps architecture is thereby preparing its own absorption? 2) Architecture? The development of a structure.—Renaudie, Riboulet, Thurnauer and Véret have few equivalents in France. The St. Denis and Gigaro schemes are interesting for the method used to vary space and scale. Le Corbusier’s free plan idea is present but transposed, structure becomes an element governed by the programme. This method tends to solve the problem raised by lack of time, avoiding hazard. In the Gigaro scheme the geometrical module is specific to the volu-metric solution of the design, the site is respected, space is treated with variety; the result would be convincing if the final expression of architecture was not lacking. As for Saint-Denis, the site was devoid of relief, architecture developed in space by being superposed. Should the importance of these structures be so great, so decisive to become complete architecture? Is this not research within artificiel limits where liberty is reached only through a yoke. 3) Architecture? Exploring a principle.—Parent’s architecture is always experimental, because his character is too exuberant to accept limits and be shut away in narrow, prudent research. Therefore he conducts tentatives where quality and good teste have no importance by themselves, only research putting ideas into concrete form count. This is powerful architecture with a risk. However it reveals several facts—the resistance of the envi-ronment which drives the architect ta an exhausting combat against the authorities, clients, etc., the rapid deterioration of schemes whose architecture is diluted by clashing details, the lack of influence of certain creations which remain isolated. Parent with Virilio try to change this with two main objectives: arousing mankind to architecture by making it somatic, animating the urban dweller by dynamic architecture, each principle being illus-trated in the schemes at Nevers and Charleville. a) Architecture? Expression of inspiration.— Labro, Orzoni and Roques were fortunate in having important commitments early in their career. This inspired and romantic architecture owes its quality more to the personality of those who design it, more than to the ideas behind it. The Mont Olympus project already revealed the importance given to specifying space, the will to create living space organised with great flexibility, while the Avoriaz scheme has another dimension, due perhaps to the surrounding site which inspired the design, dramatic and tense. The architects lived there some time before starting the project, but as soon as the first sketch was made, the project was rapidly executed. Two essentiel features should be noted: the essentiel part inspiration plays, drawn from the feeling of surroundings, the use of ail elements of expression, exterior volume based on resonance with the site, sculptured and modelled to fit in with the needs of the programme. Interior space remains classical, untouched by exterior influence. The relief, the view, and sunlight also influenced design and if the final expression is dramatic, this is because the scenery is dramatic. It has to be seen to be felt. 5) Architecture? Blossoming of a poetical world.—The source of the architecture of Baley, Ginat and Marcoz is its vision of nature, its means are exultation, its aim is the knowledge of life. It affirms that ail things develop from the couple who alone give fruitfulness, only the open form is since it alone can be penetrated by space. Baley’s appartment, by materialising its largest dimension, the diagonal, may be oriented which guides the whole design, reverberating in the decoration. The house et Ezanville expresses the power of geometry and from the central core shutting in the stairs and flues, spreads its wings to break the parai-lelism. However can such works be defined? Only poetry seems capable of recognising them. Perhaps better to let them speak for themselves. 7 1. H.P. MAILLARD, P. DUCAMP. In the beginning each project was designed as an isolated work. Now, because of the desire for standardisation and industrialisation, architects have been forced to consider each scheme as a grouping of basic units, which for their success, must lend themselves to as many combinations as possible. Our present trend is to define a building as a total of varying volumes appropriate to each of the functions of the programme, structure is cal-culated on the scale of the basic units and not on the scale of the whole design. This is how we have designed standard plans of swimming pools, sports halls, youth clubs. Appropriate volume is sought (restricted near shallow water, extensive round the diving board), wind bracing is solved on the scale of the smallest units so that they may be assembled as required. Each bay is structu-rally independent, therefore heights may vary, plan can be irregular, roofing is possible in shells, plates, etc. The richness of the composition may therefore be treated by grouping and opposing elements of varying height and breadth. 19 2. J. RENAUDIE, P. RIBOULET, G. THURNAUER, J. L. VERET. COUMIPEZ. The architects intended from the beginning to abandon the isolated villa design, there was to be no separation of functions, the scheme being con-sidered as one dwelling with multiple and complexe links. Economical building was aimed at through rigorous organisation—a series of parallels spaced at 7 meters. A multitude of volume combinations are possible but they must be sought in the perspective of the solidness of the project. There is no return to the old world village atmosphère, but research for forms which harmonise with the development of a human group in the richness of its relationships. GIGARO. If could be thought that in the schemes for Gigaro and Saint-Denis the aim was to reach perfect objectivity and that for this the diagram could replace invention and that the design simply con-sisted of putting these geometrical mechanisms in place. Such e method would be dangerous, eli-minating imagination. Composing Gigaro brought a surprise every moment, chance, if controlled raises opposition to a strict system and becomes e constructive force, revealing its possibilities. These systems make up the framework of the scheme and the means, capable of absorbing discoveries due to chance into a unified design. SAINT-DENIS. This residential development scheme consists of e substructure for distribution, and housing raised from the ground and linked together by pedestrian circulation where community equipment is installed (shops, recreation, schools, etc.) and activities pro-viding employment for many people. The organisa-tion of thèse elements is set up in the evolving system with no dissociation of function, but the desire to create opportunity for contact and anima-tion. High density housing in pyramid shaped blocks encourages inhabitants to adapt themselves rapidly to urban life. 32 Riccardo Porro. After a hard struggle « modern » architecture has finally been accepted by the whole world. But the principles of the great masters are enforced automa-tically and are unfortunately now only a reflexion of bureaucratic thinking. This produces nothing but inhuman and ugly space where mankind becomes a difficult object to accommodate, finally packed away in any kind of box. Many architects revoit against this and those I will mention stand out for their violent reaction to this conformist way of thinking. MAILLARD and DUCAMP. In their design structure is not used as an end in itself but as e means to create rich spaces. The more they deepen research the more they succeed in dividing form with interesting results. RENAUDIE, RIBOULET, THURNAUER, VERET. They start with e free plan, and continue their research through geometry. PARENT and VIRILIO. Their architecture seeks an image, as strong as possible, of something which strikes them in the world around us. They are going to make their buildings into aggressive objects, a machine. The curves of their design recall a streamlined object, their vision is close to that of artists like Paolozzi, Tinguely or César. They are seeking harmony with nature because of the relationship of form, they endeavour to continue the landscape, but there is no identity with the contents. Interpenetration between inside and outside is reduced to the mini-mum, the exterior suggests a rich interior being but the relationship is not pursued. Interior and exbe-rior are opposites, but diagonals dominate every-where. As regards design methods they first consider the exterior volume to give e powerful vision, from there they organise function to make exterior form and interior function coincide in perfect harmony. On Nevers church they have succeeded, with closed volume, in creating open interior space, by diagonals organising simple volume. Charleville exploits a single parallel oblique in relief. LABRO, ORZINI, ROQUES. This team seem to have been influenced by German romanticism. At Avoriaz they have converted ail the buildings into immense roofs, hallucinating in a dramatic landscape. The exterior is powerful and falling snow on these geometrical monsters must underline an extraordinary informalism. They deform naturel elements, endeavouring to express the concealed agony of man living in a world under crisis. BALEY, GINAT, MARCOZ. One of the most lyrical architects of our time, Baley affirms that the true French tradition is that of the great gothic cathedrals. His love of nature guides him towards fluid architectonic space linked to naturel space. Wrights influence is evident in the house at Ezanville but his own evolution is also apparent. Baley is approaching French vitalism and usually finds economical solutions through his research. 33 3. C. PARENT. Faced with the problems of present day reality, the architect must adopt an attitude of action dictated by his personal reaction, e pledge decided by his character, his conception of life, his position in relation to mankind. Plunged in an atmosphere unfavourable to his art, he is confronted with a moral code and e policy for action. If he is free, he will trace e limit below which he must not fait Tracing a policy is more interesting since it involves architecture itself. An architect may design a project, then find a sponsor interected in financing it, or he may receive a « brief » with e programme. This may be a private residence (however to be considered as e vague survival to be discouraged) and can be treated as research on architectural structure, on a plastic theme, but must be used as e starting point for larger projects. The space structure or theme is amplified, but not multiplied since e large housing block must never be consi-dered as e group of separate dewellings. If has quite a different nature. These considerations are revealed in the two following exemples: development of an organic diagram in three houses neer Paris where the two branches of an obtuse angle group two distinct volumes. This theme is recalled in a block in Paris and will be used again since it has the advantage of creating living space in which conti-nuity is set up more easily than with the right angle. The oblique function nearly always tells for an obtuse angle for ramps but in this case the transposition of the organic diagram will be assured by passing from the plane to the section along the axis of the steepest stope. The second research is the exploration of special transparency with simple parallel volume. Two exemples are André Bloc’s house at Cap d’Antibes and the Iran hostel at the Paris Cité Universitaire. The link is more visible because, clearly can be seen the separation between the two main volumes, the animation of intermediate spaces used for open air activities in the house and for the director’s appert-ment in the university block, the rythmic counter-point of the exterior staircase confronting the sharp edges of the facade with its curves, the similarity ot structural technique and its expression. But the search for transparency dominates these projects designed about 6 years ego, which prove, in spite of the rudimentary means given by industry to the building world, that it is possible to create living and original architecture. However in spite of the architects endeavours, work executed on a brief only succeeds in solving a succession of special problems. Only the artists way of attacking the plastic expression of archi-tecture creates a link through his work, unfortuna-tely insufficient because it varies according to different kinds of buildings (schools, factories, etc.), financial possibilities, site, sunlight, etc. The result is the lack of coherence visible in built-up urban districts. The architect can only deplore this, but he also contributes to it in spite of himself, since each building may be e success in itself but taken together they do not make up unity. Therefore the architect should seek to dcminate the plastic whole, carrying out research on structure (in the philoso-phical sense of the word). For this there are two tactics—the everyday struggle for details and then a detachment from them to prepare the future. We must practise Utopie to be sure of having a minimum of positive results. This should take the form of theoretical research on concepts, principles, and finally control of consequences. It is encoure-ging to see that, as soon as research is undertaken,