Thursday, September 30, 2010

Communist Savoir Faire

Oscar Niemeyer has always been a favourite architect of mine. His buildings and interiors always remind me of a James Bond (Sean Connery) film set, and I am sure this is where Bond’s set designers drew some of their inspiration from.

I, love architecture of all various types and styles from baroque to modern, and this is one building that presses all my buttons for modernist architecture.

Oscar Niemeyer’s stunning headquarters for the French Communist Party in Paris was commissioned in the late 1960s — a time when the Communists enjoyed great popularity in France.
Niemeyer was a committed Communist, and waived his fee for the design of the building. The headquarters building was built in the early 1970s on a site formerly occupied by workers’ housing at Place du Colonel Fabien in the 19th arrondissement, an area known for its Communist sympathies.

A white space age like dome rises from the forecourt of the building in front of a sweeping glass façade. This dome forms roof of the building’s main conference room, a space dominated by hundreds of hanging metal ceiling tiles, which give an ethereal effect that is constantly changing with the light.

What is wonderful is that most of the original furniture still remains in the main foyer and in the conference room. Walls and spaces can appear almost brutal at times however these are broken up by the use of timber shuttering used in the casting of the concrete.

Communism seems to have been rather stylish in Niemeyer’s world. I am just wondering how much his fee was and how much the building was to construct, as this is luxury with an edge!

It was kind of ironic that New York menswear designer Thom Browne chose to show his 2010 collection for men inside one of the meeting rooms with rows of long tables and little French and American flags at each place.


  1. Awesome architecture, crappy political system.

  2. What a fascinating building. The exposed concrete reminds me a bit of the Ontario Science Centre or Robarts Library on the university campus.

    The Thom Browne fashions are ridiculously Pee Wee Herman-ish. Wear those anywhere and one would quickly become an object of ridicule. I agree with Chanel who said that people whose clothes are laughed at deserve it. Slightly cruel, but true....

    Thank you for introducing me to this intriguing building.


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