La poétique du béton


“On reproche au béton son aspect ingrat, mais jamais une matière ingrate n’a nui à la beauté d’une architecture, au contraire, elle met en évidence ses qualités spirituelles.” Auguste Perret, 1948

The seaside town Le Havre is a total design by architect Auguste Perret, made of concrete, organized in a grid. The city, like many European cities, is destroyed during WOII. Most cities are reconstructed in a traditional way, a few in a modernistic way, Le Havre shows another approach. The structure is based on the prewar urban plan, playing in an innovative way with possibilities of organizing a city. Its a strange mixture, classical and monumental elements are freely combined with modern town planning. And it is working quite fine, clear and understandable as it is. The (contemporary) shops and (traditional) restaurants are fitting easily in the urban fabric. At the same time it is worth to visit the messy neighborhood outside the centre, to experience the difference. Or just take a close look at the cultural centre of Oscar Niemeyer occupying the central square. The decent name is ‘Le Volcan’ but the curves of concrete refer more to a nuclear reactor. And which town can tell a story like this?