Ricardo Bofill: Les années françaises / The French Years
Dominique Serrell, Jean-Jacques Aillagon, Michèle Champenois, Bjarke Ingels
Norma Editions, Paris, 202e
Recognized in Europe as an avant-garde creator since the 1970s, the Catalan architect Ricardo Bofill (1939-2022) was called to the French scene following the destruction of the Halles de Baltard, in the center of the capital, in 1971. Invited to competing in 1974, the architect proposed reconnecting with the historical forms of Parisian town planning. At the heart of a political rivalry, he was dismissed in October 1978, after more than three years of projects, by Jacques Chirac, the first elected mayor of Paris, who then declared himself “the chief architect of the Halles”. Bofill and the Taller de Arquitectura nevertheless played a leading role in the development of new towns in France, from 1972 to 1985, with projects as striking as they were controversial: Abraxas in Marne-la-Vallée, le Lac in Saint-Quentin -en-Yvelines, or the Antigone district in the center of Montpellier.
A veritable logbook, widely illustrated, this work describes the close relationships between architecture and politics under the presidencies of Valéry Giscard d’Estaing and François Mitterrand, and constitutes an unprecedented file on Les Halles, an emblematic construction site, covered by a confidentiality clause until the death of the architect in 2022. Through the Taller archives and the stories of witnesses from the time, including Jack Lang, Jean-Jacques Aillagon, Paul Chemetov, Roland Castro, Michèle Champenois and Antoine Grumbach, the author describes Bofill’s prodigious rise to superstardom, as well as the importance of architecture, then at the center of public debate.