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Perret, Auguste

Auguste Perret, born in Ixelles (Belgium) February 12, 1874 and died in Paris February 25, 1954, is a French architect who was one of the first specialists technicians reinforced concrete.

Long disparaged by historians and theorists of the modern movement, particularly between 1960s and 1990s, more precisely by relatives of Le Corbusier denying what they considered as compromise favored by governments without ambition, it was not until the passage of the different crises of this movement so that the work of Perret regain a place in architectural history more directly oriented heritage logic. Auguste Perret appears in this new context as one of the very few architects who have been able to discern the implications and limitations of the Modern Movement.

In addition to these value judgments inevitably subjective, Auguste Perret has played a decisive role : first architect to take the constructive interest of reinforced concrete (early 1900), he remained attached to this material that is both economical and robust, while posing some principles as the "style without ornement" the post-beam-slab structure or the free plan. Under the sign of historical continuity, the consistency of his work - which spans more than half a century - reflects the desire to place the modern construction within a new architectural order defined as the structural classicism School. This terminology should not hide an exceptional practicality which can equally well be understood as a quest for sustainability and democratization of Modernity; an ideal architectural he fully realized by rebuilding the Havre downtown.

Auguste Perret is in line with a grandfather quarryman and a stonemason father : he always kept a taste of simple treaty noble material and a sense just as modest as pragmatic of the construction. Born near Brussels, where his father had taken refuge after his involvement in the Commune de Paris, he learned the methods of modern buildings in the family business, before finally directing his career as an "architect specializing in reinforced concrete." At the same time, he completed his studies at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, where he received instruction from Julien Gaudet, one of the theoreticians of contemporary architecture who transmitted his rationalist and classical approach of Beaux-arts. Beyond this classical rationalism, his particular concern for the structure also has its source in a constant reading of the works of Auguste Choisy and especially of Eugène Viollet-le-Duc. Although a brilliant student, he left the School of Fine Arts to join the family business - even before graduating, or attempting a potential Prix de Rome.

Théâtre des Champs-Elysées

In 1905, combined with his brothers Gustave (1876-1952), who was also an architect, and Claude (1880-1960) - who had taken over the building firm founded by their father - Auguste Perret is one of the first entrepreneurs to employ reinforced concrete in construction. Thus, in 1913, he built his first great achievement:  the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris. Through an open discussion on technical and formal possibilities of this new material, it is considered as the precursor of the free plan by quickly coming to the conclusion that the construction is based on two fundamental entities: tthe support structure (or frame) and fillings (partitions, windows and piers). He applied to the concrete forms and proportions often related to French classicism, as well as textures and worked surfaces in the manner of the stone (choice of the constituents of concrete, roughening surfaces). "My concrete, he said in 1944, is more beautiful than stone. I work, I chisels [...], I make a material which exceeds in beauty the most valuable coatings. "

Reading the Auguste Perret architecture must not however stop at a classic appearance or practical concerns - if not pragmatic - a contractor, and let forget the proper architectural dimension of his work. He promotes the reinforced concrete for its structural and aesthetic qualities through its own "order of reinforced concrete." Man appears as a fully modern and, if he affirms the importance of a material said poor (concrete), if he treats it as stone size and seeks to join the elegance of fine arts artisanal simplicity, it is not without a social ideology that they can then approach the research started by the Arts & Crafts and then extended - at the time when it starts - in Art Nouveau. Moreover, through the work built, he imakes himself fully an architect looking at the building under the eye of a liberated area, built a vacuum : what we can observe in his projects on an urban scale and that we can otherwise include in the definition opening his collection of aphorisms : "architecture seizes space, limits it, closed it, shut it up. It has the privilege to create magical places, entirely work of spirit. "

25bis, rue Franklin, Paris 16e
The fame of Auguste Perret begins in the early twentieth century with the realization of the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées earning him, through some scandals, an immediate notoriety even as he tries to defend particularly modernist ideas as to impose concrete, build "buildings" around Paris or realize a "style without ornament" to end the mistakes of Art Nouveau. In the 1920's and 1930's, ihestarts talks and theorizes his thought, but without publishing the subject of numerous journal articles supported in particular by Marie Dormoy (art critic, free wife and his future mistress). He also holds the position of president of the League of modern architects, founded by Hector Guimard in 1922. He embodies the Order of concrete through the orientation tower of Grenoble in 1924 and then multiplies his achievements in important public orders, artist workshops (Boulogne-Billancourt), industrial or private building projects such as rebuilding the Ananie's houser in Paris and the church of Notre-Dame-de-Raincy in 1923. In 1938, Auguste Perret is made featured in the film the Builders of Jean Epstein. Many of his achievements are presented there, and the architect exposes his view of architecture. Under the Occupation, it keeps the first place among modern architects: he will be elected member of the Academie des Beaux-arts in 1943 and will chair the Ordre des architectes. Although the government of MaréchalPetain is resolutely moving towards regionalism (reconstruction of Orleans), he obtained the reconstruction site of the place Alphonse-Fiquet in Amiens.

After the war, Auguste Perret is an acknowledged master when he is approached by young architects trying to create a French school of reconstruction. But the Ministry of Reconstruction and Urbanism does not want a response unity, preferring to encourage the diversity and then judge the effectiveness of each work: this will allow to integrate projects particularly modern (Cité Radieuse of Marseille ) and other more regionalist (Saint-Malo). Nevertheless Perret's team winsl the more important project : the reconstruction of Le Havre. Renamed Atelier (workshop) for the reconstruction of Le Havre, the group supports the rebuilding from scratch of 150 hectares of the city center. Auguste Perret died before the completion of the construction.



25bis, rue Franklin, Paris 16e