The “sculptor architect” Pierre Székely came to notice in the early 1950s as a pioneer of the synthesis of the arts. His approach was part of that new sensibility for space, described in 1963 as “architecture-sculpture” by the critic Michel Ragon, which was developed in the postwar period in France and elsewhere in the world. Székely’s numerous architectural projects were invariably the outcome of intense collaborations, with both architects and inhabitants (Le Bateau ivre, 1952-56). His work was inextricably bound up with research into the plasticity of new materials, such as shotcrete which finally liberated the formal vocabulary from the constraint of shuttering. In certain projects, Székely would propose an architecture eluding the earth’s gravity (La Cité aérienne, 1964-65). But he did not abandon sculpture and, in Europe and Japan, produced many monumental public sculptures, somewhere between abstraction and figuration, usually using stone.
Pierre Székely (1923, Budapest—2001) settled in France in 1946. In 1953, he won the prize for the Espace Group competition and in 1965 he joined the GIAP (Groupe International d’Architecture Prospective), created by Michel Ragon. He designed and built several dwellings (Le Bateau ivre, Saint-Marcellin (1952-56…) as well as numerous leisure infrastructures (Village de vacances Renoveau, Beg Meil, 1964-1966), and cultural and religious projects (Eglise du Carmel, Saint-Saulve, 1963-66…). In 1991 an outdoor museum was opened in Pécs (Hungary) devoted to Pierre Székely’s oeuvre.