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2010 Parent & Jean Nouvel © Emmanuel Goulet.jpg

Photo © Emmanuel Goulet

Tribute to Claude Parent
by Jean Nouvel

In l'Architecture d'Aujourdhui numéro 411, March 2016
Courtesy of Jean Nouvel and l'Architecture d'Aujourd'hui.
© L'Architecture d'Aujourd'hui
Translated into English by Jean-François and Maeve Guesdon.

Claude, what did you give me without seeming to?



  •  The pride of being an architect, head held high, assertive, sartorial and thinking sports cars.  What a pleasure to ride in one of your cars, the khaki Jeep “Architecture Principe” ‘with the big white logo on the hood! My first sports car, a red Triumph TR4A to represent Claude Parent at the site meetings in Epernay.


  •  The courage to be an architect, to say no to the naysayers of architecture.  First of all to the unspeakable engineer- saboteur of the Perronet building, a dream killer . . . And then to all in his family which is well connected to a certain milieu in construction where architecture represents danger. 


  • The guts to say, enunciate, denounce, without fear of either expressed opinions or of the ostracism that materializes to face the underrepresented ugly duckling . . . That is to say, you taught me how to despise sheep.


  •  The sense of utopia, this tiny twilight glow on the horizon, this wish for a brighter tomorrow . . . The impassioned discussions, most of the time with you and Paul Virilio about theory and acting on it. . .  Evenings of meditation, alone with the issues of Architecture Principe (on spatial continuity, the
    Oblique. . .) and, time after time, those interrogations, those thoughts that resurface, those surprising resurgences that consistently lead me to work on “my Oblique”.


  • The importance of the study of the form we find: form is often the consequence of programmatic and constructive realities, we must then cajole it, tame it, enhance it.  I have seen you battle with it.  Every time I find myself confronting the volume, the mass, the monolith, I think of you and your silver fountain pen, a Parker with a broad nib whose downstrokes and upstrokes ended up covering my tentative tracings.


I can also mention the link between Arts and Architecture, the respect for true building contractors, the confidence and faith that consistently led you to throw your young colleagues – me included – into the water to prove to them that they could swim . . .


Jean Nouvel

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