The career of any great architect is a series of trials, breakthroughs, reverses and revisions, followed in the best of cases by the opening up of new research and expressive avenues. Without doubt, Massimiliano Fuksas is a prime example of the latter. He has tackled all the most recent styles of pop architecture - shopping centres, skyscrapers, tradeshow districts, convention centres, concert halls and airports - without ever adopting the conventional language that has given rise to so many worn out stereotypes. Each typology he has put his mind to is infused with an inventive, avant-garde approach. This has naturally placed him in the uncomfortable position of having to ensure that each new brief bears the masterstroke of genius.
Recent conversations with him often came round to the subject of the new French National Archives then on the way to completion. Fuksas was never very forthcoming on the subject, however, almost as if reluctant to go into details about a building that might not prove one of his most singular works. Now that the Archives Nationales have been completed, and now that the quiet Paris suburban setting of
Pierrefitte-sur-Seine is host to another cinematographic spatial sequence by one who sees himself more as “film director” than architect, I understand his reluctance was neither reserve nor coyness but simply a preference to let people judge for themselves.
Looking at the new complex, it is clear Fuksas’ inventive touch is still with him. The new archives bring together many avant-garde themes to produce an astounding piece of machinery at the service of knowledge.
At the core of the project is the whole question of how to deal with time passed, the testimony of time past,
and by that token, the idea that the past exists and will continue to exist even in an era like ours that seems determined to do away with it, heedless of either producing or cherishing the...
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