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Architecture Principe
(Claude Parent, Paul Virilio)
  • Architects

Bringing together the architect Claude Parent and the philosopher and urbanist Paul Virilio, Architecture Principe left its mark on the history of architecture through the experimental nature of its proposals and the subversive inspiration that was its driving force, working against the architecture of the period and all forms of intellectual conformism. From the 1950s onward, Claude Parent based his experimentations on a critical approach to the modern plan. To do this he worked with fractured volumes (Drush House, Versailles, 1963) and inclined surfaces. His discourse radicalized after his encounter with Paul Virilio, a specialist of military space and spatial planning, who at the time was focusing on the archeological analysis of the Atlantic Wall (the Nazi defensive system dotting the Atlantic coastline of France). Rejecting the orthogonality of the Euclidian space, which they considered a micro-ghetto, they together developed the theory of the oblique function, in an attempt to propose solutions to the deep crises faced by cities. Inclining the floor to form a sloped surface and the fluidity of movement that this creates, is supposed to allow deeper human relationships. By having to make an effort on the ramps, human beings actively participate in the architecture. The principle was implemented in religious buildings (Sainte-Bernadette du Banlay, Nevers, 1963-66), dwellings (Mariotti House, 1967-70) as well as territorial planning (Les Vagues, 1965-66...), in which architecture becomes the support underlying movement for a "livable flow of movement". "We can no longer dissociate the dwelling from the flow of movement" Claude Parent declared. Henceforth, it is the movement of people that will breathe dynamism into architecture.

Claude Parent (1923) and Paul Virilio (1932) founded the Architecture Principe group in 1963. The oblique function would be the thread running throughout the nine issues of their magazine Architecture Principe, which were published between February and December 1966. They ended their partnership following the events of May 1968. Claude Parent was awarded the French national Grand Prize for architecture in 1979 and has been a member of the French Academy of Fine Arts since 2005. In 2009, a monographic exhibition at the Cité de l'Architecture et du Patrimoine was dedicated to this leading figure in the history of 20th century architecture. Author of many essays on speed and technology, Paul Virilio directs the Espace Critique collection (Ed. Galilée) and regularly contributes to numerous publications. He was a professor and director of the Ecole Spéciale d'Architecture and received the French national Grand Prize for Architectural Criticism in 1987.