Claude Parent

Grotte de Clamouse, Hérault, 1980

Far from being an example of signal-architecture, this pavilion housing a reception center is a good example of Claude Parent’s attachment to the landscape and to the importance he places on the nature of the terrain to be built. 35 kilometers from Montpellier, at the foot of the Causse du Larzac plateau, the surface of the site is modest in comparison to the subterranean network of caves, where the visitor can see stalactites and other concretions, and to which the building serves as the access. The program is also understated, since its purpose is to group a ticket desk, an office, a storage area and two refreshment counters. The area, squeezed between two rocky slopes, left the architect very little place to build and no nearby visual reference, apart from nature itself. His first project, following the example of the shopping centers he was designing at the time and certain studies for single-family homes, is characteristic of the aesthetics of the Oblique Function. Access ramps, jutting balconies and sharp angles come together to create “brutalist” architecture composed entirely of concrete. In the end, an entirely different schema was chosen. Three concrete diagonals seem to emerge from the rock; protected by a veil of concrete, under which the various activities are housed. Now covered with vegetation, these outgrowths appear to be a part of the natural landscape.

Audrey Jeanroy

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