Modern Space & Historic Space
Henri Ciriani


Henri Ciriani

©Sophie Riestelhueber

I consider myself a Modern architect. My work is in a certain way a continuation with the basic ideology or important thrusts of the Modern movement, which considers an equivalent between the aesthetic value of architecture and the social value of the recent way archi- tecture was done. I consider that the criticisms which have been made of the Modern aesthetic, of its nudity, have more to do with the fact that this nudity has become a cheap economical value, taken over by profit—oriented developers on one side and, on the other, the fact that this Modern space, this liberty, this incredible possibility of doing a free architecture, has enormous difficulty being taught. The images which follow concern three topics: one which has to do with the Modern space, the other with housing as a way of continuing this ideal of the bettering of human environment as one of the biggest ideals of the Modern movement, and last, public buildings. The housing schemes are essentially big housing projects which are now the important part of the development of French new architecture. The French cen— tralised policies and overwhelming capacity to build from a central stand have permitted some architects to build with a sector which was neglected as an architectural one, urban space as the place where the public realm must be created. That's why, for me, having the opportunity of building public housing in different urban situations, was the most important demonstration that the power of Modern capacity of creating better environments for Man was possible. At the same time in the early '705 I realised that Utopian cities or idea] cities were no longer possible because of that difficulty of having a one-man decision over a long period of time in one site and at the same time over an extensive territory. This forced me to concentrate on creating urban pieces. By urban pieces I understand an autonomous program which doesn't need all the environment in order to survive and give the people concerned the whole potential of the living unit.


Noisy 2, Marne-La-Vallée

©Atelier Ciriani, Riestelhueber

This first project was in Marne—la-Vallée where this theory was put forward and I was most concerned with creating context. Let's say, Marne—la-Vallée is a project which permitted in a New Town, where no urban structuring was possible, where you followed almost all of the diseases of the known operative structural urban schemes, especially those laid out by sociological reasons only, or by technological reasons only, to create a new context. For creating this new con— text, I based myself in three basic elements. The first is that this public housing scheme must have an exterior value. The second one is that in the interior you could feel yourself that you are on the threshold and at the same time inside something. And the third is that this scheme must have the poten- tials of green space and open space in the real layout. The first image shows the scheme where an elevated walkway was asked to be re— spected by the new town. I use it as a projectual device in order to step on it with the scheme.

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