Mies van der Rohe : an architectural landmark in Barcelona

© National Gallery, Berlin, 1968

By Jacqueline Mainguy

It was at the 1929 International Exhibition in Barcelona that the architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe first exhibited his avant-garde talent. The German Pavilion was nestled in a wooded corner on the hill of Montjuic Park: Mies van der Rohe didn’t want to be crowded in by the many other international exhibitors. He was representing Germany, and welcomed the Spanish monarch Alfonso XIII as well as German officials. Through his building, Mies van der Rohe presented all the essential aspects of his architectural philosophy:  perfect symmetry, space, clarity, simplicity and minimalism. Continue reading

Talking about concrete: Philippe Prost at the Palais d’Iéna

Beauty of concrete’s classical age

Beauty of avant-garde concrete

During this September’s European Heritage Days, the Palais d’Iéna opens wide its doors. Philippe Prost, magician of concrete, presents this monument, one of the most remarkable examples from the classamc-couvertureical age of concrete, which today houses the Conseil Economique et Social.

In 1936, the architect August Perret (1874-1954) made use of all the technical and esthetic potential of reinforced concrete, creating a new architectural order able to rival with Antiquity. For Iéna, he designed the luminous colonnade of the Salle Hypostyle, marrying oak and concrete, as well as the famous stand-alone staircase with its railing by Raymond Subies, its double flights lilting upward in the form of a horseshoe. A daring, unapologetic use of raw concrete. Continue reading


An exchange between François Chatillon, Managing Architect for Historic Monuments, and Vanessa Fernandez, Hunt Fellow 2010


François Chatillon

The dialogue “Conserver c’est modern” constitutes a manifesto questioning the challenges presented by the 20th century’s abundant architectural legacy. In which ways can we envision the future of this heritage? Through what kinds of interventions? How can we end the dysfunctional separation of creation and conservation?

For the full French dialogue, follow this link, or just  Continue reading

Forum with Jose Ignacio Linazasoro

Jose Ignacio Linazasoro

Remarks about contemporary architecture and the relationship between the old and the new

Amongst the complexities of modern architecture, I have been primarily concerned with public buildings and public space.  I have worked in many patrimonial sites and have, therefore, been confronted  with fundamental problems in contemporary architecture, i.e., the relationship between the old and the new.  Many people believe that introducing modern buildings in an ancient site is dangerous or even impossible.  In my opinion, however, building in an historic site without a contemporary  frame of thought is irresponsible. All sites are living entities, which is why they should not become museums of times past or parodies.

*The Madrid-based architect Jose Ignacio Linazasoro pronounced the 12th annual Inaugural Lecture at the Ecole de Chaillot, Paris, on February 2nd, 2016.

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Azay-le-Rideau: Project of the Century?

Château d'Azay-le-Rideau Photo © CMN

Château d’Azay-le-Rideau
Photo © CMN

The Centre des Monuments Nationaux (CMN), under the impulse of its President, Philippe Bélaval, is restoring the Château of Azay-le-Rideau, a gem in the Loire Valley.  The site has been on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage monuments since November 30, 2000. This 16th-century « venerable lady », built on an island in the Indre River between Chinon and Tours, has remained remarquably authentic, probably as the King François I knew it.

Benefitting from a 7 million-euro allocation, the work began in 2015 under the supervision of Arnaud de Saint Juan, Inspecteur en Chef de Monuments Historiques.  He estimates three years necessary for completion and foresees 100 years of prolonged life for the château. Continue reading