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Claude Parent

Claude Parent (1923-2016) is one of the most important architects and theorists of the architectural revolution that took place in the second half of the 20th century. The first in France to have broken with modernism and offered an alternative which proved not only viable but also fertile: the Oblique. 


His research and experiments in dynamic, often fractured, architecture and urbanism recommend the use of slopes to restore an active role to residents and connect them to their built environment and change social space. They precede the work of the deconstructivists by a generation and were a lasting and historically recognized influence for several generations of architects. With the theory of Oblique Function, developed with Paul Virilio from 1963 to 1968 (Groupe Architecture Principe) and a life spent implementing the idea of movement and the oblique in his projects, he has shaken up the way we live and design public or private space. 

Photo © Fonds Claude Parent. SIAF/CAPa/Archives d'architecture contemporaine. Cliché C.-M. Masson

The Oblique – his proposal for life on and under inclined planes – then considered madness, nevertheless proved its value as an architectural solution thanks to the persistence of Claude Parent. Far from being satisfied with theory alone, he applies it to his buildings, several of which are now protected as French Heritage, such as the sloping Sens supermarket or the Sainte-Bernadette du Banlay Church in Nevers, whose floors are inclined. He experiments with its functionality on a daily basis inside his own house, as well as in Bellaguet's apartment, two homes completely designed obliquely. He shares it with the general public in interactive spaces made of slopes and counter-slopes, the practicables, as at the Venice Art Biennale of 1970 (for which he was curator of the French pavilion) and in the Maisons de la Culture. He disseminates it in his books, conferences and articles. Finally, he represents it in his magnificent utopian drawings, often published, exhibited or even as billboards, calling city dwellers to rethink the city. He voluntarily remains away from any school, any movement and any formalism, but the architects and urban planners of the following generation clearly perceived the vital importance of his message, adopted the oblique and its original topology and architecture was changed.

More recently, he is thinking of new strategies for the city in response to major global issues (overpopulation, migration, ecology, sustainability and exhaustion of natural resources): these strategies, always based on the oblique, recommend opening the city to new human displacements rather than pushing them back, to support migrants throughout their journey with stopovers and accommodation buildings, to change urbanism, giving the land back to agriculture to feed a growing population, or to nature to fight its destruction. He seeks harmony between the city and migration, between nature and buildings while providing solutions to the great ills facing our planet.  

Many international contemporary architects, including Jean Nouvel, Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, Wolf D. Prix, Daniel Libeskind, Thom Mayne, Rem Koolhaas, have recognized the influence of Claude Parent's thought and work, influence confirmed by architectural historians. 


His work is present in the permanent collections of the following museums:
Georges Pompidou Center (Paris). FRAC center (Orléans), New York MoMA (New York), SFMOMA (San Francisco), Cité de l'architecture et du patrimoine (Paris), Académie des Beaux-Arts (Paris), IFA (Paris), Heinz Architectural Center at the Carnegie Museum of Art (Pittsburg), as well as in numerous private collections. 

To find out more about Claude Parent visit the Claude Parent Archives website 
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