Jean Renaudie

Vaudreuil, 1967-1968

In the late 1960s the Atelier de Montrouge was commissioned to do a study which would provide the outlines for the plan of a new town on the site of Vaudreuil, located along the banks of the Seine between Paris and Rouen, a town intended for a population of 100,000. This study was a turning point in Jean Renaudie’s career and led to a break with his associates. The project submitted by the Atelier de Montrouge was comprised of three proposals. The first two are situated in the valley of the Seine following a grid principle which is based on rigorous abstraction, weaving the various urban functions into a dense whole. In the third proposal, Renaudie went it alone, developing the scope and richness of his thinking to the fullest, seeing architecture as the “materialization of the complex structure on which human relations are organized (...) putting to use the desire to dream, (...) physical form that envelopes peoples’ lives in all the complexity of their relations with their environment.” The architect imagined an organization based on terraces following the valley’s slopes and the cirques in its cliffs. His sectional views and perspectives, absent in the other two proposals, emphasized the city’s appropriation of the topography. But the audacity of the proposal is most evident in his particularly abstract plan designs, marked perhaps by the Pop zeitgeist or by the typical instruments used in drawing at the time (color felt pens, screentone, etc.). These graphic expressions of thinking in action were a radical break with traditional forms of architectural representation: notched wheels, disks and colors illustrate the fabric of relations as well as the different levels of reality that would give the city its shape, its “abstract organization.”

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