System

[44] System - Matt Lemon Photography. All Rights Reserved.

Steel façades with panels and prefabricated sun-screens. UNESCO Headquarters Building V (Miollis Building). Paris, France. © Matt Lemon Photography. All Rights Reserved.

“Our civilisation is dragged through the mud right now, but it has left us its teachings. It has given us a taste for form, for design. When the world collapses, when there is nothing left but ruins, all that matters is workers or artists, whichever term you prefer, I mean the people who know how to contruct.”
― Bernard Zehrfuss, French architect (1911-1996)

“Never design anything that cannot be made.”
― Jean Prouvé, French metal artisan, self-taught architect and designer (1901-1984)

Miollis Building

The Miollis Building (Building V) by Bernard Zehrfuss and his compatriot Jean Prouvé was inaugurated in 1970 after three years of research and three years of construction. Impressive photos and drawings of the building can be found on the website of the Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine, a Parisian museum of architecture and monumental sculpture.

“Like that of all the buildings on the Place de Fontenoy site, the architecture of Building V is remarkable. It displays the combined talents of its architect, Bernard Zehrfuss, and its designer/builder, Jean Prouvé. Representative of the functional and ergonomic developments in office buildings in the 1960s and 1970s, Building V bears the mark of research by Zehrfuss into the structure, image and comfort of office buildings, and by Prouvé into prefabricated glass and steel façades, and steel structures.”

[Source: UNESCO Headquarters Committee “195th Session (15-16 June 2017) ‘Renovation of Building V Miollis’”. The document includes an interesting exploded 3D-view of the building’s façade.]

Bernard Zehrfuss

“Bernard Zehrfuss, [who was awarded the] Premier Grand Prix de Rome in 1939, committed to modernity very early by adopting the most innovative production methods of his time. He was author or co-author of some of the most striking buildings in the postwar period: the Mame printing factory in Tours (1953), the Renault Flins plant (1957), the UNESCO headquarters in Paris and its extensions (1952-1980), the CNIT La Défense (1958) and Gallo-Roman Museum of Lyon-Fourvière (1975). Bernard Zehrfuss worked with great engineers and great artists of his time.”

[Source: BMIAA “Bernard Zehrfuss, Architecte de la spirale du temps”. The article includes impressive photos of Zehrfuss’ work, especially of the Gallo Roman Museum in Lyon.]

Jean Prouvé

“Jean Prouvé completed his training as a metal artisan before opening his own workshop in Nancy in 1924. In the following years he created numerous furniture designs, and in 1947 Prouvé established his own factory. Due to disagreements with the majority shareholders, he left the company in 1953. During the ensuing decades, Prouvé served as a consulting engineer on a number of important architectural projects in Paris. … Prouvé’s work encompasses a wide range of objects, from a letter opener to door and window fittings, from lighting and furniture to façade elements and prefabricated houses, from modular building systems to large exhibition structures – essentially, almost anything that is suited to industrial production methods.”

[Source: Vitra “Jean Prouvé”. The article includes photos of Prouvé’s furniture designs.]


When I updated this post, I swapped the below quotes (to match the photo’s title) with the quotes by Zehrfuss and Prouvé. 

“Simple systems work and complex don’t.”
― James Nicholas “Jim” Gray, American Computer Scientist (1944-2012)

“Everything must be made as simple as possible. But not simpler.”
― Albert Einstein, German Theoretical Physicist (1978-1955)

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