© Emmanuel Goulet
The influence of the radical French architect Claude Parent (1923-2016) extends far beyond the legacy he left us through iconic buildings such as the Villa Drusch in Versailles (1963), the church of Sainte-Bernadette du Banlay in Nevers (1966), or GEM’s shopping centre in Sens (1970). Parent’s work manifests the “oblique function” theory he developed with Paul Virilio in 1963, that dictates buildings should feature slopes, be wall-free where possible and have a predominance of space over surface to encourage the movement of people.
At the heart of Parent’s vision was movement that is nowhere more evident than in his drawings, which Frank Gehry calls “extraordinary—beautiful fantasies, full of poetry,” and Edwin Heathcote describes as “breathtaking… in their ambition they not only presage Daniel Libeskind and Zaha Hadid, they arguably surpass them”. Jean Nouvel names Claude Parent the “Piranesi of our time.”