Category Archives: Tour Maine-Montparnasse

A clarion call to resist architectural fascism

In Making Dystopia: The Strange Rise and Survival of Architectural Barbarism, James Curl recounts the history and devastating effects of architectural modernism. It is, writes Dalrymple,

a painful book to read. In one sense his targets are easy, for as the photos demonstrate, modernist architecture and its successors are so awful that it scarcely requires any powers of judgment to perceive it. It is like seeing a TV evangelist and knowing at once that he is a crook.

Yet modernist architecture,

despite its patent hideousness and inhumanity, has its defenders, especially in the purlieux of architectural schools. Moreover, the population has been browbeaten into believing that there was never any alternative, and it is obvious that to undo the damage would take decades, untold determination and vast expenditure. Removing the Tour Montparnasse alone would probably cost several billion. No one is prepared to make this colossal effort.

Curl has written, says Dalrymple,

a learned critique of one of the worst legacies of the 20th century.

Postcards from Paris and Havana

Screen Shot 2014-01-22 at 15.40.19

Dalrymple’s destructive urge

Tour Maine-Montparnasse (1973, Eugène Beaudouin, Urbain Cassan and Louis de Hoÿm de Marien) turns Dalrymple into an anarchist:

Screen Shot 2014-01-22 at 16.24.52 He had a point

The crassest example of modernist architecture. It combines size and inescapability with banality. I cannot see it (I try not to look at it) without feeling a surge of anger. Parisians ascend it because the top floor gives the only view of Paris from which you cannot see it. I think of Bakunin when I look at the tower: the destructive urge is also constructive.

Edificio Bacardí (1930, Rafael Fernández Ruenes, Esteban Rodríguez Castell and José Menéndez) restores Dalrymple’s soul:

A harmonious architectural whole. There is hardly a detail that is superfluous or tasteless. The tiled multicolouration is perfectly adapted to the Cuban light, climate, and temper. The architects understood the need for air and shade in a climate such as Cuba’s. Elegant, sophisticated, convenient, and joyful.