Rebel Architect: 15 Surreal Sketches Encapsulate the Utopian Visions of Claude Parent

Paul Keskeys Paul Keskeys

On the 27th of February 2016, visionary French architect Claude Parent passed away aged 93. Described by philosopher Paul Virilio as a “utopianist of the territory,” Parent was known as a “supermodernist” who frequently confounded the architectural expectations of his peers, producing spectacular and often subversive projects to test the rigid principles of Modernism.

Claude Parent; © Emmanuel Goulet; via Archdaily

Parent formed a key link in an extraordinary chain of celebrated French architects; a student of Le Corbusier, he himself mentored Jean Nouvel during a career full of hugely influential projects including radical concepts to convention-busting completed works. He is perhaps best known for his study of oblique angles in architecture, proposing structures with sloping ceilings and floors to activate space; as the New York Times puts it, Parent “used the vertical and horizontal as mere jumping-off points.”

His influences ranged from the work of artists and sculptors such as Yves Klein and André Bloc to the curiosities of abandoned architecture — particularly the concrete bunkers of World War II, which possessed bold forms and a raw aesthetic that Parent found highly compelling. These bunkers directly informed Parent’s architectural style, culminating in iconic odes to Brutalism such as L’église Sainte-Bernadette du Banlay in Nevers, France.

L’église Sainte-Bernadette du Banlay in Nevers, France; via Moove Magazine

Having originally been trained in the traditional beaux-arts style, Parent began to explore the academic realm of Modernism before entirely breaking away, conceiving radical concepts that question the basis of conventional architectural theory. Many of these ideas are illustrated by the architect’s pencil drawings, each of which stands as an architectural artwork in its own right. Here, we look at 15 of the most beautiful sketches — standing as timeless reminders of Parent’s extraordinary imagination.

Open City VI; via the New York Times

From “Claude Parent: Between Utopia and Reality”; via Ex-Chamber Memo (Overseas) 4

From “Claude Parent: Between Utopia and Reality”; via Ex-Chamber Memo (Overseas) 4

La maison de P.A n°4; via Vitry-Sur-Seine

From “Claude Parent: Between Utopia and Reality”; via Ex-Chamber Memo (Overseas) 4

From “Claude Parent: Between Utopia and Reality”; via Ex-Chamber Memo (Overseas) 4

From “Claude Parent: Between Utopia and Reality”; via Ex-Chamber Memo (Overseas) 4

Moon Ears 2; via SFMOMA

From “Claude Parent: Between Utopia and Reality”; via Ex-Chamber Memo (Overseas) 4

From “Claude Parent: Between Utopia and Reality”; via Ex-Chamber Memo (Overseas) 4

From “Cities of the Mobile Home”; via Vitry-Sur-Seine

Urban Bridges; via FRAC Centre

From “Claude Parent: Between Utopia and Reality”; via Ex-Chamber Memo (Overseas) 4

From “Claude Parent: Between Utopia and Reality”; via Ex-Chamber Memo (Overseas) 4

From “Claude Parent: Between Utopia and Reality”; via Ex-Chamber Memo (Overseas) 4

© Treivas

Akademiya Argunovskaya Cafe // Treivas

Moscow, Russia

© MARSINO Arquitectura

Aularios Campus Juan Gomez Millas, Universidad de Chile // MARSINO Arq uitectura

Santiago, Chile

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