Architecture: the farewell to monuments

Remember, this was at the turn of the century. The metropolises of the rich countries, then the towns of medium size, all began to order spectacular temples of culture, museums, concert halls, multi-purpose stadiums, prestigious buildings with fabulous shapes. Measuring the advertising potential of such investments, private companies have also set about building sensational head offices. By the mere presence of these extraterrestrial buildings, the physiognomy of a city was transformed, the circulation modified. We traveled from afar to witness the spectacle of virtuoso and eminently photogenic architecture. It was the time of iconic architecture.

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With his colleague Jacques Herzog, Pierre de Meuron was at the forefront of this trend, and one of its main service providers. The prestige adding to the prestige, the prizes that were distributed in the corporation came to crown this movement. The Basel duo received the Pritzker Prize in 2001, in the wake of Renzo Piano, Norman Foster, Rem Koolhaas. Before them, Frank Gehry, Christian de Portzamparc, and after, Zaha Hadid, Richard Rogers, Jean Nouvel are all representatives of this architecture of grand gestures, often described as immodest. And now decried: voracious in resources and energy, difficult to maintain, many of these buildings now seem to embody the old world – that of infinite growth and happy globalization.

make common fabric

The times are changing. Today, Pierre de Meuron says he devotes himself more to town planning than to architecture. That is to say more about what makes up the common fabric and contributes to everyone’s quality of life. In his work, the overall vision and the systemic approach take precedence; aesthetics is put at the service of the environment and people. This year and the previous one, the Pritzker has crowned architects renowned for their social, thrifty, humble, local work – Lacaton & Vassal in 2021, Francis Kéré in 2022.

William Faulkner said of architecture that it was the furniture of time. However, times are changing. And architects too.

Read also: Pierre de Meuron, architecture seen from above

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