Le Havre reconstruction
New town (reconstruction)_Housing/ housing ensemble (and other uses)
New town (reconstruction)_Housing/ housing ensemble (and other uses)
Auguste Perret (masterplan), Auguste Perret et Jacques Tournant ( Hôtel de Ville ), Auguste Perret ( Eglise Saint-Joseph ), Auguste Perret ( Porte Océane ), Pierre-Edouard Lambert ( Front de mer sud )
Concrete by reinforcement
Concrete is a relatively brittle material that is strong in compression but less so in tension.
To increase its overall strength, steel rods, wires, mesh or cables may be embedded in concrete before it sets. This reinforcement, often known as rebar, resists tensile forces. By forming a strong bond, the two materials are able to resist a variety of applied forces, effectively acting as a single structural element .
In this case, the concrete can be made by mixing the components directly on site, or it may be transported from a production plant in concrete-mixer trucks.
This method has the disadvantage of leaving the concrete exposed to the elements while it is setting. Whereas, with other methods, the environmental conditions can be controlled during setting, providing greater control over the outcome, with cast-in-place concrete a series of tests and protocols are necessary to verify its final strength.
PRECAST ON SITE:
In larger and more complex construction projects, a concrete production plant may be installed on the construction site or nearby. The precast elements are moved into place once they have reached their maximum strength. This reduces transportation costs and ensures the concrete will set in the same environmental conditions as the building site. This may be more necessary with structures that combine cast-in-place concrete with prefabricated elements.
PRECAST IN FACTORY, WORKSHOP:
Any concrete element can be manufactured ahead of time and transported to the site once it has set. In this case, the control over geometry, appearance, finish and strength can be as strict as necessary. It can also be ensured that the pieces will be exactly identical to one another.
Prefabricated elements can be of any type: from façade panels and pavements to decorative elements (such as cornices or capitals) and structural elements (columns, slabs, beams, etc.).
These elements may be part of a commercial catalog or specially designed for a specific project. A series of pieces may also be sold as a coordinated and interconnected system to build a complete structure or even an entire building.
In its design, the element should account for aspects such as modulation, finishes, transportation, anchoring, installation on site, junctions between panels, the creation of openings and the relationship between the panels and joinery. The element may also be given characteristics that can improve the thermal insulation of the façade, for example. In that sense, they are often part of an industrialized system that offers a variety of responses to different construction situations and maximum versatility in terms of architectural solutions.
The aesthetic possibilities of concrete in prefabricated façade panel systems are endless in terms of size, shape, color, texture, hardness and a wide range of features.
- textured walls
- wooden formwork finish
- stamped concrete
- exposed aggregate concrete, colored concrete, etc.
Beams are the horizontal load-bearing elements of the frame. Columns are the vertical elements of the frame and act as the building’s primary load-bearing element. They transmit the beam loads down to the foundations.
State of Conservation
The city of Le Havre, capital of the French region of Normandy and a strategic port on the English Channel, was subject to heavy bombing during the Second World War. This compounded significant damage that had occurred during the First World War, from which the city had not yet fully recovered. As a result, when it came time for reconstruction, the “tabula rasa” approach – building a new city from the ground up – was seen as the only viable option.
The reconstruction was carried out under the direction of Auguste Perret, a pioneer in the use of concrete in France, who by that time had reached a very advanced age. The reconstruction was completed with astonishing speed, from 1956 to 1964, and it represented the definitive consolidation of the potential of concrete as a construction material on a large scale. Its versatility, the possibilities of prefabrication and industrialisation, the production systems and availability of cement, along with the speed of implementation on site were all put to the test. Numerous teams of architects were responsible for constructing fragments or entire buildings in the new city.
The approach, in terms of urban planning and architecture, was both pragmatic and monumental: the urban layout is characterised by wide avenues and boulevards, with singular buildings at the ends, broad open spaces, with pedestrian streets, squares and gardens, long continuous façades and volumes that generate compositional balances. As for the architecture, the stylisation of classical forms (with many constructive and decorative elements made from prefabricated concrete) manages to create an urban environment that is similar in appearance to the characteristic French expansions designed by Haussmann.
Église Saint Joseph and Hotel de Ville
These two buildings were designed by Perret himself. While the architecture of the city council building is coherent with the rest of the city, the church is considered the city’s most unique building. With its high lantern tower, resembling a lighthouse, the church serves as a landmark in the urban landscape. The tower, and most of the interior, resemble a large latticework where béton brut is combined with stained glass, achieving a lightness and evanescence that has earned it a comparison with Paris’s Gothic Sainte-Chapelle.
Porte Océane, or “Ocean Port” is the popular nickname for the city of Le Havre. In Perret’s design, this metaphor is materialised in the urban form of one of the city’s most characteristic new elements – a large urban mise-en-scène with a symmetrical classical composition, intended to be viewed from the sea: two residential towers surrounded by ample public spaces flanking the head of the city’s new main avenue, generating a symbolic gateway to the city from the sea.
Rue de Paris
Despite the city’s new layout, the position of this street, the most lively and crowded street in Le Havre, remained exactly the same. The memory of the old archways is reflected in the new architecture, where a monumental two-story portico encourages walking and commerce.
Other notable urban elements in the reconstruction of Le Havre include: l’Avenue Foch (the city’s main circulation artery), the Front du Mer Sud (the seafront) and the Quartier Saint François.
The reconstruction of Le Havre was declared a World Heritage Site in 2005.
Le Havre (centre)
Normandie (Région), Seine-Maritime (Département) 76600 Le Havre
Fundacion DOCOMOMO Iberico