The Nevers work site


Claude Parent



There are two ages for encountering an architecture.

The age of the moment: the worksite.

The age of duration: use.

The work site is schema in the most brutal and virulent state. It signifies the architectural becoming of the work. It is laid wide open to be read, not yet cluttered wit the multiple uses of daily life.

If there is architecture, then it can be formulated in the rough, implicitly. Finishings and comfort have not yet ben grafted onto it, fading and dulling it, making it more confusing.

We are both in the most precise formulation and in the dream of unused space.

Everything has already been said. Going back is impossible. The creator is still the only one who knows this.

The critical moment is when the building is handed over for use. This is the inversed threshold of initiation. The rejection of the father for a confrontation with the world. The moment of misunderstanding, polemics, between a too actualized and unprepared world and an architecture open to the future, conceived to last, reticent about the present, formulated for the future generations, but it is today’s people who most determine its use.

Then there is the space of duration. Men and elements leave their different marks: wear and tear, the moment of assimilation, passage, use. In this period, the architecture becomes and education in participation.

Much later, it will remain a witness.


Architecture Principe N°4 (S)  May/June 1966

In: Claude Parent and Paul Virilio, Architecture Principe (Les Éditions de l’Imprimeur, 1997). Translated from the French by George Collins