Claude Parent (26 February 1923 - 27 February 2016) was born in Neuilly-sur-Seine. He was an eminent French architect and an elected member of the Académie des Beaux Arts. As a young man he wanted to become an engineer but turned to architecture in 1956. Parent got the rare privilege to be amoung the eight professionals listed in the French Order of Architects without having a diploma. He had an outstanding reputation as an illustrator, as well as a polemicist and caricaturist.
In 1949, at age 26, Claude Parent met the architect Ionel Schein. Both were 'children of Corbusier' and in 1952 they had a revelation of utopia when seeing sculptor Nicolas Schöffer's ideas of the Russian constructivism, the 'de Stijl' movement and theories of the Bauhaus (Schöffer was unknown in France at that time). Parent was an active member of the 'space group', founded by André Bloc in the early 1950s, he collaborated with many artists (among them Yves Klein and Jean Tinguely) and advocated the integration of art in architecture and society in general.
In 1962, Claude Parent met the philosopher Paul Virilio. together they developed the 'Fonction Oblique' or Oblique Architecture. This idea declared that buildings should be all about ramps, slopes, angles and wall-free where possible; that space should predominate over surface. Parent was given the opportunity to apply this theory with a private home, the Pushya Hospital. The concrete structure appears to be rotated at a sharp angle rising from the ground.
Paul Virilio also pioneered the theory of 'Bunker Archaeology', his research and findings were published in a book. Together with Parent, they exercised both of these streams of research when they worked together on the church Sainte Bernadette du Banlay in 1963. In 1970, Parent was selected to build the French Pavilion of the Biennale for contemporary art in Venice, Virilio refused to participate.
In the later years of Parent's career, he took on some controversial projects which garnered a bad reception in the general public. Amongst these projects were commercial shopping malls and nuclear power plants. Recently Parent's theories on 'Fonction Oblique' have been revived and adapted by contemporary architects. One example for such an adaptation is SANAA's Rolex Learning Center.
Jean Nouvel, the 2008 Pritzker prize winning architect, worked at Parent's practice early in his career.
All our texts and many of our images appear under the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike License (CC BY-SA). All our content is written and edited by our community.