Arquitectura Viva
Monday, September 28, 2020

AV Monografías 65


V-VI 1997


Cold France


Luis Fernández-Galiano
Más fría, más seca, más común
Colder, Drier, Plainer

Corrientes de rigor
Currents of Rigor

François Chaslin
Días de crisis en Francia Times of Crisis in France
Jean-Paul Robert
Exportaciones del Hexágono Exports of the Hexagon
Yves Lion
Viviendas con vistas al Sena Housing over the Seine

Habitar París
Living in Paris

Viviendas en la calle Émile Durkheim, París Housing on Rue Émile Durkheim, Paris
Francis Soler
Viviendas en la calle Pixérécourt, París Housing on Rue Pixérécourt, Paris
Philippe Madec
Residencia universitaria Croisset, París Croisset Student Residence, Paris
Architecture Studio
Viviendas en la calle de la Roquette, París Housing on Rue de la Roquette, Paris
Diener & Diener

Sector laboral
Working Sector

Torre de Crédit Lyonnais, Euralille Crédit Lyonnais Tower, Euralille
Christian de Portzamparc
Sede regional de EDF, Burdeos EDF Regional Headquarters, Bordeaux
Norman Foster
Sede de la CNP, Angers CNP Headquarters, Angers
Dusapin & Leclercq
Centro de control aéreo, Mérignac Air Traffic Control Center, Mérignac
Bertrand Bonnier

Estudios superiores
Higher Studies

Facultad de Arte y Humanidades, Grenoble Arts and Human Sciences Faculty, Grenoble
Lacaton & Vassal
Academia de las Artes, Talence Arts Academy, Talence
Massimiliano Fuksas
Aulas y laboratorios, Marne-la-Vallée Lecture Rooms and Laboratories, Marne-la-Vallée
Jourda & Perraudin
Facultad de Ciencias, Tours Sciences Faculty, Tours
Franck Hammoutène

Artes de la memoria
Arts of Memory

Ampliación del Museo de Bellas Artes, Lille Extension of Fine Arts Museum, Lille
Ibos & Vitart
Centro de Artes Contemporáneas, Tourcoing Center of Contemporary Arts, Tourcoing
Bernard Tschumi
Archivos de Ultramar, Aix-en-Provence Colonial Archives, Aix-en-Provence
Lacoste, Robain & Guieysse
Museo Arqueológico, Saint-Romain-en-Gal Archaeological Museum, Saint-Romain-en-Gal
Chaix & Morel


Luis Fernández-Galiano

Colder, Drier, Plainer

France cools down. With the death of Mitterrand went a certain idea of republican grandeur; the last round of presidential projects bid farewell to the last architect of Paris, but also to the French ambition of occupying a singular place in the world. France's statist and centralist model, without which the latest generation of grand architectural works cannot be understood, loses validity in the neo-liberal tide, which encourages dispersion and deregulation in the free ocean of the global market. The country's diplomatic fiascos in Europe and Africa, the loss of prestige of political elites, the economic slowdown caused by cuts in public spending and the spread of social marginalization have together brought about collective discouragement and the rise of fascism. The recent parliamentary elections, which have placed a placid protestant socialist in the post of prime minister, have served as a barometer for the prevailing malaise, but failed to remedy the general climate of demoralization.

It is in this disoriented panorama that French architecture, eroded by budgetary constraints, finishes the projects that were initiated in better times and wonders what strategy it should take in order to survive during the foreseeably protracted period of material and symbolic austerity. The great emblematic projects are now a thing of the past, but so is the ideological and stylistic ferment that gave France's architectural production an attractive intellectual glamour. From immaterial transparency to neo-Corbusian historicism, and from mediatic architecture to sculptural expressionism, innumerable tendencies of high culture have paraded on French catwalks. While the American academic avant-garde fed on the French literary haute cuisine, from Foucault to Barthes and from Bataille to Derrida, the architects of the Hexagon relished on finding abstract ideas in the glorious and ephemeral feast of tangible forms.

All these schools and tendencies now take part in a subdued dialogue — among themselves or with the illustrious group of foreign guests that France has always prided itself on — about the future of a colder, drier or plainer architecture. The visual finesse and material refinement of these French works invites us to pay attention to this dialogue, which fluctuates between typological urbanity and contextual picturesqueness, and between the penitential rigor of expressive silence and the light loquacity of decorated skins. In this debate on abstraction and populism, we miss some of the higher and more lucid voices, such as those of Nouvel and Perrault, whose provisional absence probably deprives the conversation of many arguments and episodes. But France has always made debate an artistic form, so even if deprived of some protagonists and immersed in the gray weather of the turn of the century, the dialogue that the architects of the Hexagon are engaged in deserves our eye and ear.

AV Monografías 65 - FRANCIA FRÍA
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