Claude Parent

Maison André Bloc, Cap d'Antibes, 1959-1962

Avec André Bloc

This home-cum-studio built for André Bloc, the engineer, painter, sculptor and director of the magazine L'Architecture d'aujourd'hui, features a number of innovations. Following their collaboration on a special issue dedicated to Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969) the artist and sculptor commissioned Claude Parent, a member of the Espace group team, to design a metallic “bird’s nest” inspired by the German architect’s principles of construction. The terrain of the chosen site, close to the La Garoupe Lighthouse, is quite steep and hard to adapt to a structure with load-bearing walls. André Bloc and Claude Parent explicitly recall their “intention was to take maximum advantage of this exceptional site using a fairly wide range of technical equipment.” They opted for a slender framework of I-beams and reinforced concrete slabs. The resulting interior spaces are almost totally open to the panoramic view. Only the exterior sliding shutters make it possible to close off part of the house to the outside. The house is made up of three levels: the living spaces on the upper floor, the solarium on the middle level and the studio on the lower level. The client played the role of visual consultant, working on the design of the exterior staircase and the contrasts its curves produce in relation to the geometric framework of the load-bearing structure. A manifesto on modern architecture, the design for this house also raises the question of how to adapt an innovative structure to an architectural environment heavily influenced by a regional style. This integration was not free of controversy and the lifestyle, the technique and the empiricism it involved undoubtedly played a big role in this. Registered with the French Supplementary Inventory of Historical Monuments in 1989, the Bloc family vacation home was added to the list of Historical Monuments in 1992.

Audrey Jeanroy

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