Sunday, July 14, 2013

My France

It's probably ironic to celebrate the French national holiday with a photo of a building by a Swiss architect, but there you go.
Le Corbusier's Villa Savoye (1928-31) in Poissy, France. Photo ©Darren Bradley
In honor and celebration of the France's national holiday, I thought I'd post a few of my photos from my time spent there. What Americans call Bastille Day (the French don't ever call it that) is not really celebrated in the same way in L'Hexagone. It's a time for the military to polish their weapons and parade down the streets of cities throughout the country. But otherwise, the French consider it to just be another day off from work (unless it happens to have the misfortune to fall on a weekend, such as this year). 

I used to work at the Centre Pompidou (Renzo & Piano, 1971-77), while studying in Paris in the mid-90s.
Photo ©Darren Bradley
I have a special relationship with France, as I spent a good part of my teen years and early 20s there. I went to school there and I've worked there. And since I married a French woman, I've been traveling back every year or so ever since. 
Here's me desecrating some modernist architecture in Lyon while living there at age 15.
Photo ©Darren Bradley
And here's a photo of the same spot that I took in February of this year. 
I didn't bring my skateboard this time. Photo ©Darren Bradley
I originally lived in Lyon, where I stayed with a family as an exchange student. Even then, I loved the modern architecture in the Part-Dieu section of the city. Here are some more photos from the mid-80s to now, of that part of town. 
L'auditorium de Lyon, by Charles Delfante and Henry Pottier, dates to 1975. Photo taken eleven years later. Photo ©Darren Bradley
And here it is today...
The same building from February 2013. Photo ©Darren Bradley
Photo ©Darren Bradley
This district was in better condition back then...
Lyon's Part-Dieu district in about 1986 or 87. Photo ©Darren Bradley
Lyon's main market in front of what is undoubtedly the Coolest.Parking Garage. Ever. (by Jean Zumbrunnen, 1970).
Photo ©Darren Bradley
OK, maybe THIS is actually the coolest parking garage ever... 
Parking des Célestins by Targe, Wilmotte, and Buren (1994). This underground parking garage in the heart of the city of Lyon is a fun surprise. You can't really see anything from the street, except for a small public park with an open square and a periscope in the center, inviting you to peer into it. The periscope looks underground, straight into the center of this 7-storey, underground well, around which the cars using the parking garage circulate. At the bottom of the well is a rotating mirror that reflects light from above on to the walls. Photo ©Darren Bradley 
At street level, all you see of the parking garage is a small public square in front of the theater, with a periscope inviting you to look below. Photo ©Darren Bradley
Probably Lyon's most well known recent example of modern architecture is Jean Nouvel's addition to the opera house.
The couple kissing at the bottom of the frame here were very upset that I took their photo until I assured them that their spouses wouldn't recognize them. Photo ©Darren Bradley
Renzo Piano has also been through town, and left his mark with this megalithic convention center / hotel / museum / theater / commercial / office complex. 
Photo ©Darren Bradley
Interior, linear courtyard at Piano's Lyon complex. Photo ©Darren Bradley
There are quite a few new buildings in Lyon since I lived there. This glass department store is one of my favorites:
Monoprix - Grand Bazar de Lyon by Jean-Pierre Buffi et Philippe de Fouchier (2004-2007). Photo ©Darren Bradley

I also spent time in the French Alps (Annecy), as well as in Geneva and Yverdon (Switzerland) and Brussels (Belgium), before moving to Paris in 1994.

Annecy is a beautiful historic little town alongside a lake, with canals throughout its medieval buildings. But there are a few examples of modernism there, including the Hall of Justice. 
Palais de Justice by Maurice Novarina (1973-1978). Photo ©Darren Bradley
The ski resorts in France were mostly developed in the 1960s and 70s. There are some amazing examples of modernism there, although they probably don't correspond to the classic, romanticized notion here in the States of what it's like to be in the French Alps... 
Avoriaz Ski Resort by Jacques Labro, Jean-Jacques Orzoni and Jean-Marc Roques. Photo ©Darren Bradley
In Paris, there are several modernist icons in the outskirts of the city that are well worth a visit, including the Villa Savoye (above) and the Carré Residence by Alvar Alto (below):
Photo ©Darren Bradley
Photo ©Darren Bradley
I'll do a specific post on Le Corbusier later, so will defer on posting any more of his work. 

But here are a few other photos of notable architecture around Paris: 
Fondation Cartier by Jean Nouvel (1994). Photo ©Darren Bradley
Chanel Pavilion by Zaha Hadid, with Nouvel's Institut du Monde Arabe behind it. Photo ©Darren Bradley
Niemeyer's Communist Party Headquarters. Photo ©Darren Bradley
The industrial-looking greenhouses on the grounds of the former Citroen factory, by Patrick Berger, Jean-François Jodry and Jean-Paul Viguier. Photo ©Darren Bradley

And the dormitories of the Cité Universitaire de Paris, including this one built for Mexican students, designed by Jorge Medellin in 1953. Jean Prouvé and Charlotte Perriand designed the furniture for this building. Photo ©Darren Bradley
I'll do longer, more specific posts on some of these topics later. In the meantime, Happy 14 juillet, everyone! 


Anonymous said...

Ah oui, je ne l'avais pas lu ce post... très intéressant. Je connais peu Lyon, ça me fait une belle visite!

Anonymous said...

Oh, et il y a une petite erreur, l'institut du monde arabe, c'est Nouvel!

modarchitecture said...

Merci, Lucas! Je devais etre fatigue quand j'ai ecrit ca (je sais qui l'a fait, bien sur!). Corrige !