Le Havre, World Heritage Site

The Perrey District.


Much architectural experimenting went on, on the vast reconstruction site of Le Havre. As out of a laboratory, the reconstructed city centre is made up of different types of buildings, all in accord with the Perret Studio precepts. The ISAI (Buildings Without Individual Attribution) and even the Résidence de France are representatives of the twentieth century modern movement.

The ISAI (Buildings Without Individual Attribution)

Designed in 1946, these buildings were pre-financed by the French State, in order to experiment quickly with the different construction methods. They were truly prototypes.

Built alongside Town Hall Square, the ISAI are square blocks of flats including a tower. They all share an unusual feature: a planted inner courtyard. The 352 through flats enjoy maximum natural light.

These buildings show off the expertise of the Perret Studio architects in the use of concrete, of a bone structure made of posts and beams, of prefabricated in-filling slabs, of a subtle range of colours, from beige to purple. They also helped define the 6,24 metre structural module which, from an economical point of view, made it simpler to standardize the production of building materials. From an aesthetic point of view it gave the reconstruction a hidden rhythm, combining empty spaces and blocks in typically “musical harmony”.

The Résidence de France

Overlooking the sea and situated opposite the yachting harbor, this 1 200 unit housing scheme was built by architects Georges Candilis and Jacques Lamy at the beginning of the 1960s. Close to dissident members of the Modern Movement gathered in the Team-Ten, Georges Candilis wanted to get away from principles of aligning blocks, particularly with reference to the Perret Studio orthogonal grid. Within the boundaries of a five hectare site, he chose to organize buildings on a hexagonal grid in which patios, alleys and passageways replace a traditional street and where buildings, shops and spaces planted with greenery can be found. The flats are large and so are the bay windows and balconies. This housing scheme is particularly valued for its sea view and easy access to the yachting harbour.

Outside the reconstructed city centre

Built from 1947 to 1951 by Perret Studio architects led by Perret himself, the buildings on Avenue Jean Jaurès offer 70 flats and shops at street level. Same as the city centre blocks, the structural module was respected here, as well as the posts and beams construction system, and in-filling slabs. The facades are of a bright pinkish orange colour which adds cheerfulness to the view one gets when arriving by train at Le Havre.